Yesterday, bomb threats were called in to 16 Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) across the south and northeastern United States.
It seems we are living in the proverbial “interesting times.” We have been living in the Golden Age of Judaism—over the thousands of years of Jewish history, it is extremely unusual for Jews to have the ability to live in a place where we are free to practice our Judaism and to be considered as equals with those around us of other faiths. We have that freedom and a Jewish state as well. We are unbelievably lucky to live in the times we do.
But like in every other generation, there are people who hate us.
And I am here to tell you not to be afraid.
“In each and every generation, they rise up again to destroy us.” Remember that? From the Passover Haggadah, we sing the V’hi Sheamda to note that throughout Jewish history, there have always been those who have tried to subdue, harm, terrify, and murder us because we are Jews. Why are we singing? Well, among other reasons, because we are still alive and still able to sing.
I’m not scared of cowardly jackasses who choose to draw swastikas on signs. They do their disgusting vandalism under the cover of darkness. They are the ones who are scared. They are scared to sign their names to their work. They are scared to come out into the light.
I’m not scared of those anonymous calls of bomb threats by troubled people, usually bereft of any intent other than to strike panic and fear into innocent hearts.
I went to Israel last month—among other reasons to show that I believe with all my heart in being physically and emotionally present in a place that I believe in.
And I believe in America.
I’m not scared to be a proud Jewish mother in the United States of America in 2017—and neither should you be. I am not and will not be scared to stand up and tell my children, “You are the beneficiaries of a tremendous intellectual, spiritual, historical, and religious heritage. You are links in a chain that is thousands of years old.
“And when you go to your Jewish school, and when you go to synagogue, and when you sing as we light the candles, and when you wear your identity loudly and proudly as your name, you say to the world, ‘I am a Jew, and I am proud and happy to be a Jew. And I will never, ever be scared to be a Jew.’”
Bomb threats? Well, let me tell you something. I go to the JCC near me for music classes. My nephews have gone there for nursery school. My son will go there to participate in the Maccabi sports teams. My parents go there for art classes. And we won’t stop.
My husband goes to Fort Lauderdale regularly on business—should he never go to the airport again in light of last week’s shooting? People text and drive—should we never go on a road? The whole world is full of harm and terror and tragedy and violence—shall I not choose to live in it? I will live in it and I will do my best to live as a light and to fight the darkness.
The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is to not be afraid.