Judaism is at a pivotal moment in history. What happens in the coming weeks, months, and years will echo through the history of the Jewish people, and can prove to be the most significant turning point of the last half century.
In the wake of the Holocaust, we say “Never again.” We will never again allow that kind of hate, that kind of destruction. We won’t allow it to happen to us, and we won’t allow it to happen to anyone else.
Well, hate is on the rise, and the Jews are getting their dose. An anti-semite is about to make his home in the WHite House. The Alt-Right is using Nazi symbolism and rhetoric to attempt to recreate the horror of a generation ago, and doing so gleefully. The very humanity of Jewish people is being questioned, and a shocking few have actually shouted back “Yes, yes they are people.” The fact that the question exists is terrible, and the fact that the answer isn’t swift, immediate, and angry is worse. Anti-semitism and hate have reared their ugly heads, and congregations all across the country are scared.
This can no longer be treated as fringe behavior or oversensitivity. We can no longer wait and see if these people are ACTUALLY as dangerous as they sound or seem. We need to begin to treat this like the threat that it is, and show the strength of the Jewish people and our friends.
We, as American Jews, need to make our presence known. We have an obligation to make our voices heard, that we do not accept the rhetoric or behavior. We need to demonstrate our commitment to American values, and our insistence that our country reflect our own notions of morality. From social media to lobbying to boycotting products and companies, it is our obligation to ensure that our place in American society remains strong and safe.
And this goes beyond simply threats against Jews. The Jewish community has an obligation to not only cast out injustices against ourselves, but also to defend others, to stand up for the needy. We, as a people, have experience with what happens when the privileged ignore the plights of the oppressed. When we say “Never again,” we don’t just mean for ourselves. Never again should anyone experience the horror we went through. It is our job to make sure they never have to.
It would be easy to look past examples of anti-semitism, to shrug them off as fringe opinions and small doses of extremism. But we can no longer afford to risk the safety of our people and our culture by waiting. The alarm must be pulled and every example of hate must be identified. And we need to make sure our voices are heard and influence is felt, to ensure that our country remains a safe place for Jews and for anyone else.
To make our point, we need to find and be good allies. We have a problem in this country when each group is only willing to work to defend its own people. By banding together and fighting for common justice, we have a better chance to actually make things happen, and to ensure that all Americans are at home in their own nation.
Now is the time. The fight is here. What we do about it will determine the future of American Judaism. Let’s get to work.