How Can We Make This End

I was sharing with the Jewish Federation professional team the other day how we seem to “skip over” the news when it does not impact us. But then you find a connection and it matters so much more.
Last Sunday night, a severe tornado cut a swath through a big chunk of the Dallas metropolitan area. Most of us did not even think about it. But the tornado went through an area with a significant Jewish population on the north side of the city. While it has been challenging to gather a full assessment of damage across the community, here is what we know so far:
1. The Federation’s building appears to have taken the biggest hit among Jewish institutions. The roof was torn off the building, leading to extensive internal structural and water damage to the top floor and more. The building will be uninhabitable for months. They are now open in agency-borrowed space, but will likely need a fuller interim solution.
2. The JCC experienced significant exterior damage, but the interior of the building is okay. The J on Wheels vehicle was found totaled on a nearby property.
3. Many neighborhoods and businesses (some owned by Jewish community members) have been hit hard. These are among the more affluent areas, and people generally have insurance and other resources to recover.
4. The JCC is where the food is prepared for the community’s kosher meals-on-wheels program. Fortunately, the community has already found an alternative way to manage. 
5. The Dallas Jewish Family Service is working with individuals and families, but still building their assessment of the scope of affected households and what their needs may be.
We have been in touch with the Federation’s leadership to assess whether they require funding from other communities. At this point, they do not feel they know enough about needs to warrant that step, but if they do, I know our community will respond accordingly.
You can read more here.
Last week, I shared that people around the world are being asked to join in taking a moment to Pause with Pittsburgh (an initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America) in an act of solidarity.
On October 27 at 5:00 pm ET, one year to the day since the attack, the Pittsburgh community will join in a public memorial service for a moment of remembrance. Though we cannot be there in person, you are invited to stop – wherever you are – and join together virtually. To participate, you can sign up to receive a text message at 5 pm EST that will contain a video reading of a mourning prayer and the names of the 11 lives lost. Following the prayer, you can tune in to a livestream of Pittsburgh’s public memorial service and submit messages of support and solidarity by text. Sign up at Pause with Pittsburgh.
After Pittsburgh, perhaps we thought things would improve in our country. But then there was Poway. Anti-Semitic incidents continue to occur on college campuses and at synagogues throughout our country. Now a new report from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) shows deep concern about anti-Semitism in the United States and widespread fear that it is increasing.
The findings from the survey – the largest and most comprehensive ever on the subject of anti-Semitism in America – show that 88% of American Jews feel anti-Semitism is a problem, with 38% calling it a very serious problem. 84% say anti-Semitism in the U.S. has increased – and 43% say it has increased a lot over the past five years.
These views are consistent across age cohorts, Jewish denominations, and political affiliations.
“American Jews could not be clearer about the reality of anti-Semitism” said AJC CEO David Harris. “Our survey provides, for the first time, an in-depth assessment of American Jewish perceptions of, and experiences with, anti-Semitism in their own country. This hatred is real, comes from multiple sources, and is growing. It needs to be taken seriously and dealt with in a sustained, multi-pronged response.”
Some highlights (or should I say lowlights) from the study:
  • 31%, of the Jews polled have avoided publicly wearing, carrying or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jews.
  •    25% avoid certain places, events, or situations at least some of the time out of concern for their safety or comfort as Jews.
  • One-third of American Jews say Jewish institutions with which they are affiliated have been targeted by anti-Semitic attacks, graffiti, or threats.
  • 72% of respondents disapproved of President Trump’s handling of the threat of anti-Semitism in America, compared to only 24% who expressed approval.
  • Asked about the threat posed by the three primary sources of anti-Semitism, 89% of respondents said the extreme political right poses a threat to American Jews; 64% said the extreme political left; and 85% said extremism in the name of Islam.
  • American Jews view statements and actions that target the State of Israel as being tainted by anti-Semitism. They overwhelmingly believe anti-Zionism – that is, the belief that Israel should not exist – to be a form of anti-Semitism.
  • 84% of respondents said that the statement “Israel has no right to exist” is anti-Semitic, 80% said the same of the statement “The U.S. government only supports Israel because of Jewish money,” and 73% said so about the statement “American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America.”
  • Regarding the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel, 82% said it either is mostly anti-Semitic or has anti-Semitic supporters.
The full AJC Survey of American Jews on Antisemitism in America is available at
To add to all of this, our Jewish Community Relations Council has been working with administrators, teachers, parents and students at multiple local middle and high schools to address anti-Semitism and other racist incidents in those schools.
Frustrating. Angering. Sad. Hurtful. Upsetting. All the above. How can we make this end?
Shabbat shalom.


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