I wish I could share a story about my kids today, but I can’t. My mind is consumed with a “news story” that is personal.
In case you haven’t heard, Jewish Community Centers, or JCCs, around the United States (and one in Canada) have been targeted with coordinated bomb threats since the beginning of 2017. Yesterday, a fourth wave of bomb threats was called into 11 JCCs around the country. Some people were working out when they were evacuated. Senior citizens were enjoying camaraderie when they were evacuated. Children were playing at day care when they were evacuated. Thankfully, all of the bomb threats have been a hoax. However, they have struck fear in the hearts of those – Jewish and non-Jewish – who work and play at their local JCCs.
Our lives revolve around our JCC. One of us is in the building… sometimes up to six days a week. I will be at the JCC three times today alone! And do you know what I’m thinking about as I prepare for my midday trip to the JCC with my son? Let me tell you, it isn’t about where I’d change a diaper blow-out if one were to happen. (I’ve got that covered, thank you very much.) Instead, I’m planning how I will evacuate the building if there’s a bomb threat with my son in tow. (I’ve decided I’d ditch the stroller, strap him to my body in the baby carrier, and run out of the building.) THIS IS NOT NORMAL!
I grew up in the New York Metropolitan Area where I encountered very little anti-Semitism. I remember a handful of classmates repeating Jewish stereotypes to me they’d probably heard their parents say at home. I had one teacher, in all of my years, who gave me grief about needing to attend synagogue, instead of play practice, on a Friday. (And that was one of the handful of times in my entire school career my mother ever called school to handle a problem for me.) Even though I had to take off from school for the Jewish holidays, I never felt victimized because of my religion.
Nowadays, you read about school kids vandalizing schools with swastikas; college campuses plastered with anti-Semitic flyers. In addition to the 60+ bomb threats called into JCCs around the country, I’ve read about swastikas on the New York City Subway (which kind Samaritans scrubbed-off with hand sanitizer) and Jewish cemeteries being desecrated.
Yesterday, there was a statement issued by the White House Press Secretary condemning the “hatred and hate-motivated violence.” Unfortunately, it’s too little too late. A forceful condemnation needs to come from the POTUS. Short of that, this “hate-motivated violence” – towards Jews and other minority religious groups – will continue.
As a reader of this blog, I am asking you to do something for me. Please stand with those of us who are being terrorized by these bomb threats – even if they don’t impact you. (Just this morning, a Muslim civil rights group offered a $5,000 reward to anyone with information about the bomb threats.) Here are some things you can do:
- Share articles (Like this one, this one, this one, or this one.) on your social media accounts. We must stand together against hate. Unfortunately, I don’t feel there has been enough coverage of these bomb threats outside of the Jewish press.
- Contact your elected officials. Ask them to speak out against religious intolerance.
I will not allow fear to change the way I live. As an American Jew, I shouldn’t have to since this country was built on religious freedom. It is my hope to raise my children in the kind of America in which I grew up.
UPDATE (10:23 a.m. EST on 2/21):
About a half-hour ago (which is about an hour after this blog post went live), President Trump made this statement:
While this is a start, I believe the President needs to continue to fiercely condemn anti-Semitic threats on TV and on Twitter.