Weekly Reflection – December 20, 2019: A Message from Gil Preuss

Weekly Reflection – December 20, 2019: A Message from Gil Preuss

We continue to see a frightening pattern of anti-Semitic violence nationally and globally. From Williamsburg to Berlin, campus quads to synagogues to halls of power, we have watched with grief and alarm as people have revived an age-old doctrine of hate, violence, and baseless prejudice.

History has shown that whenever political and economic winds turn, there are people who blame the Jews for the challenges they face. What we must remember, however, is that anti-Semitism cannot and should not define us. As a community, we have what it takes to address growing anti-Semitism while simultaneously continuing to focus on building a vibrant community and country.

As you may know, Federation is partnering with the Secure Community Network and the Jewish Community Relations Council to ensure that Jewish organizations in our area have the resources, training, and expert guidance they need to keep their staffs and constituents safe. In 2020, our Security Task Force will be finding ever more ways to increase funding and make more resources available to our communal organizations.

I also hope that we continue to build relationships with other faith communities who are equally passionate about bringing their values to life. The truth is we cannot fight this battle alone. To push back against anti-Semitism is to counter deep and insidious historical and cultural narratives. We need allies who are willing to shine a spotlight on anti-Semitism, not simply on behalf of Jews, but as a reflection of their values as well. 

Finally, our role in the new year, and in the new decade, must be to call out and condemn anti-Semitism no matter the source. We will need to use our individual and collective voices clearly and without prejudice. That means calling out anti-Semitic rhetoric from leaders we otherwise admire and support. That means setting aside our own political perspectives to call a spade a spade.

Countering anti-Semitism and the violence against the Jewish community that is currently being expressed so often is shaping up to be a defining challenge of this era. We will need to devote significant energy and ongoing attention to this issue. Anti-Semitism is shocking in its ability to grab hold of people’s minds no matter the century or millennium. But, if Jewish heritage is any indicator, we have everything we need to meet this daunting challenge head on.

Indeed, as we prepare to retell the Chanukah story this coming week, I hope we take a moment to acknowledge the odds we have overcome as a people and rededicate ourselves to being a source of light, hope, and resilience in our time. Just like our ancestors before us, history is calling on us to come together as a community and rise to the occasion.

Shabbat Shalom and a peaceful Chanukah to you and yours,