Responding to Antisemitic Attacks

AJR’s Response to Recent Events

Our communities have been thrown and our emotions are raw due to the recent onslaught of antisemitic violence. We feel sadness and concern for all those who have suffered. At the same time, we stand together as a Jewish community, regardless of denomination, practice, or theology. An attack against any Jew is felt by all of us.  AJR’s principled devotion to diversity and inclusiveness guides us in our response to this spate of attacks.There are those standing up as Jews making clear that they will not be cowed into silence, expressing that the best response to antisemitism is living lives of Jewish joy and fulfillment. There are others whose responses include fear and acute anxiety. Some are wearing Jewish garments in defiance, and others are putting on hats to cover their kippot. I am reminded of the famous teaching of Rabbi Simcha Bunim who said that we must go through life with two pockets and a note in each pocket that is there to help us regardless of our emotional needs. One pocket would carry the verse “For my sake the world was created.” The second pocket would carry the phrase “I am but dust and ashes.”  Today, maybe we also need to carry two notes with us. One note can say “The whole world is a very narrow bridge, but the key is never to be afraid” (Nachman of Bratslav). The second note can include “When a lion roars, who will not be afraid? (Amos 3:8). These two notes reflect two conflicting responses to these events. Fear is a natural response. The people feeling fear deserve our time and attention and should not be made to feel weak or unfaithful. The people feeling strong and defiant deserve our time and attention and should not be made to feel insensitive or naive. Our prayer for the Jewish community and all those who work for peace is that we strengthen each other and treat each other with kindness and compassion. May we support those in need, and build our connections of light and strength. May we all together work toward a time of peace.B’shalom, Dr. Ora Horn Prouser CEO and Academic DeanThe Academy for Jewish Religion