16 December 2019
This weekend, another American Jewish community was victimized by vandalism. This time, it was the Nessah Synagogue, a Persian Jewish congregation in Beverly Hills, California. While police are still investigating this hate crime and searching for the person responsible, this most-recent attack fits into a frightening pattern of rising anti-Semitism nationally and globally. The images that have circulated on the Internet are chilling. Torah scrolls torn and strewn across the floor of the sanctuary. Siddurim (prayer books) with pages ripped out of them. Broken glass on the floor.
The pain these images evoke calls to mind both our distant history and troubling current events. We recall the pogroms in Europe that devastated Jewish communities, compelling many to uproot themselves and move to more tolerant places like America. It reminds us as well of more recent crimes, like the swastikas etched into a door of Sixth & I Historic Synagogue and last week’s shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City.
While terrible events like these force us to remember the challenges of our people’s history, they should also help us recall our ever-lasting perseverance and strength.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington continues our efforts to ensure the security of our community and the sanctity of our sacred spaces. In partnership with the Secure Community Network (SCN), we are working to verify that all of our Jewish institutions have critical security structures in place. (If your organization has not yet done so, please encourage them to connect with SCN to undertake a security risk assessment of their preparedness.)
We are also offering optimism and hope. Even as acts of anti-Semitism have become more prevalent, our community grows, and more institutions develop innovative ways to enhance Jewish life.
During the Chanukah season, let us remember the light that fills our community, rather than fixate on the dark that can permeate our world. As we prepare to light our Chanukah candles, we can summon strength and comfort in knowing our community will continue to stand together in solidarity and resilience.