I hope you all had a beautiful Pesach and are enjoying the spring weather. We have a tradition in Marine Park to bring inspirational speakers to the community for Shabbosos between Pesach and Shavous. We look forward to hosting speakers this year as well. Please stay tuned for our weekly emails updating you about the schedule.
Our community has been concerned over the last several months about the rise of anti-Semitic attacks and Israel bashing. Many people claim they are not anti-Semitic but rather anti-Israel, or that they are not anti-Israel but are exercising their right to criticize Israel and its policies.
There were children at a local school who asked their teacher if criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic. The teacher responded that no one is above criticism, and so, criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. The teacher then posed several questions; Do you live in America? Are you allowed to criticize American policy? The students all answered affirmatively. The teacher then asked: Do you feel that America has the right to exist? They said yes, of course, it does. Now you understand, responded the teacher, that when people question Israel’s right to exist, it is actually anti-Semitism.
I’ve heard people say that we Jews overreact to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents. I feel that we have to stop these incidences while we can; if you let the small things go, they become big things. As you can see from our college campuses, where we didn’t respond quickly and vehemently enough, many have become breeding grounds for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Today, many college students feel uncomfortable identifying themselves as Jewish, and some Jewish professors even need security because of harassment.
Let us all take the responsibility to speak up against anti-Semitism even if it takes us out of our comfort zone.
Ps. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, as I did last month, our upcoming special election on May 14 for New York City Council’s 45th District, replacing Jumaane Williams. Remember to go vote!