Jewish · slice of life

Please stand with us.

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 onethis 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.

Head over to https://twowritingteachers.org for more slice of life stories.
Head over to https://twowritingteachers.org for more slice of life stories.

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.

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32 thoughts on “Please stand with us.

  1. Stacey, there is so much hate talk going around that it is most disheartening. I have joined a group of poets who are writing new poems from news articles. I also have been writing a great deal about kindness and relationships because we need to change the culture to one of love of fellow man rather than hate. As educators, it is must that cultures of trust be built in classrooms from K on. I hear your plea and understand where you are coming from.

    1. You’re right, Carol. Educating children about our differences (and our similarities) needs to happen from a young age. If we wait to educate, then the most we can hope for is tolerating each other. When we build relationships with those who are different from us at a young age, then we create acceptance and appreciation.

  2. Ironically, I grew up ashamed of being of German descent and turned my back on my heritage for a good part of my life. So, hatred cuts all ways and affects all of us. (I am not equating my shame with the effects of the holocaust on Jews.) I am so sorry that you are experiencing such anxiety at this time, and I can’t blame you. I taught ENL for 25 years and tried every day, in every way to reduce the differences between us all.

  3. Stacey, you have been an inspiration to me to take action in what I believe. Thank you always for the suggestions and the reminder that we all have a role in helping to make the world a better place.

  4. We as a country seem to be moving back in time, not forward. As you said, this country was founded on religious freedom. No one should live in fear because of their beliefs. Thanks for your suggestions.

  5. Yes, I stand with you and others – I have reposted and will continue to work towards change. There was a threat to the JCC in St. Paul Minnesota yesterday. The police and firefighters help move out all the infants in the daycare. So scary for all! My heart goes out to you!

  6. I stand with you. I agree that there has been limited coverage of the threats and that needs to change. I teach in a majority minority school and I worry about my students.

  7. Stacey, I completely agree that we as a nation are not seeing enough coverage of the hatred that is continuing to spread. It really does feel our society has taken a step back. I am still in shock that this is all happening, that this man was even elected. I stand with you, Stacey.

  8. I was thinking about you when I read about some of these threats. It’s so upsetting to me! Living with the fear of needing to have an escape plan when we go out is not OK! I remember feeling that way right after Sept 11, 2001 and I hoped it was the last time ever.

  9. I can’t imagine how you feel when your religion and community feel threatened. These are incredibly sad times when your best plan when going to the JCC is your escape plan. I’m glad POTUS made those comments today, but like you, I worry that it is way too little too late. I most definitely will stand with you.

  10. I am sorry, and am sharing what I see, and giving to those organizations that I feel will also fight for us. It’s despicable what is happening in so many ways in our country. By that MAN not being strong in his condemnations, he continues to empower his base to do whatever they wish to strike that fear. I certainly will and do stand with you, Stacey.

  11. These are sad times. We exercise at our local JCC (even though we are not Jewish). It’s a wonderful gathering place in our community where so many good things happen for families. Happy to stand with you and be made aware of this.

  12. Stacey, I feel the same way. I have been shaking my head in disbelief. I was raised in the Jewish faith although my mother’s family are Christians. I had a heavy dose of religion growing up, going to Hebrew school and occasionally attending church with my grandma and nana.

    The JCC in Mt. Airy was a place where I attended services and learned to speak and read Hebrew, where I went to dance class, Girl Scouts, and gymnastics.

    I attended Philadelphia High School for Girls. I met wonderful young women representing many faiths and many cultures. I learned so much. I never felt disrespected.

    The anti-semitism we are witnessing in this country is disgraceful and totally unacceptable. The hatred in America for minority groups is spreading like wildfire. The POTUS needs to step up to the plate and do his part. …before it is too late.

  13. The personal threads of this slice woven through national and global and universal concerns proved to be a powerful read. Thanks for writing, Stacey, and I’ll echo the clarion message: Condemn hate speech.

  14. This post makes me so sad. It makes me feel like we are going backward, instead of forward. I stand with you, and with other Jewish Americans. Thank you for sharing this and bringing awareness to it.

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