It happened. Our synagogue has anti-Semitic, holocaust-denying, graffiti scrawled across it’s exterior. At least it’s not a bomb or a violent act, yet it still shakes you to the core knowing there are people out there with so much hate for a different group of people than themselves. My guess is that this graffiti artist (if I might generously gift them the name artist), has never even met a Jewish person before or if they have their interactions were probably minimal. Again, I am left wondering about my family’s safety each time we plan a trip to temple.
I felt so good participating just weeks ago in the now famous Women’s March, yet I did so with about 90-95% certainty that it would be nonviolent and that I was not putting myself or my family in harms way. This feels different, yet at the same time I rest somewhat assured that our temple staff is taking all the precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our community and thus my family.
It is times like this and events like this that continue to raise the level of admiration I have for so many nonviolent leaders and voices throughout history. Anne Frank, Zlata, Mandela, the Little Rock 9, and the list goes on and on. These are people that knew they were walking into harms way. They dealt with danger and violence and threats on a daily basis. There are so many in the world and even in our country that deal with threats daily or at least who have no assurances that they will not encounter violence whether because of their religion or color, at the mercy of law enforcement or a stranger passing by. I cannot say that I know what these people deal with, as I still have not stepped in their shoes. Yet, I will say that feeling true anti-Semitism within my own community is growing my empathy and my awareness and my awe for so many others.
I will not let this act define my future. I will not let it sour my belief in the good of all people. I will not raise my children any differently because of it. Instead I will teach my children about truth, compassion, and empathy. We will read Anne Frank and Zlata’s Diary together. We will watch movies about the Civil Rights Movement and South African independence from apartheid. And I will continue to learn along side them at temple, celebrating our traditions and the fact that Judaism continues even though for many generations Jews have persevered without converting to another religion or becoming agnostic in the face of violence and hate.