There are organizations out there that need our help as they defend and preserve Jewish culture and identity in the United States.
In late 2016 and 2017, a rise in hate crimes has been widely reported in both mainstream media and social media, including brutal acts of anti-Semitism.
Some attribute the rise to the results of the election in November 2016. Others, like Mark Oppenheimer in this Washington Post article, point out that the trend is not new—it’s just getting more attention than it did in 2015.
Jewish people, cultural centers, and synagogues have certainly been targeted. In January 2017 alone there were at least 48 documented bomb threats made to Jewish community centers across the United States.
As the daughter of holocaust survivors, I have worked tirelessly to support my local Jewish community and the cultural and educational efforts of Jewish organizations across the country. I am appalled by the headlines, the neo-Nazi propaganda, and the swastika graffiti that’s been reported from small towns, big cities, libraries and college campuses.
But, as a fighter, I know that there are ways to push back and organizations that need your support in order to continue the work of fighting hate, ignorance, and anti-Semitism.
Because it doesn’t matter if it’s one “incident” or ten—even one is too many.
I suggest a three-step approach to stopping and reducing the hate.
First, make sure crimes are documented, hate groups are outed, and legal resources available to victims.
Two national organizations are particularly good at this work.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is “is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.” The organization tracks crimes, and hate activities, as well as the groups that commit the acts. Unfortunately, there are at least four known neo-Nazi groups in New York.
The national organization that specifically focuses on Jewish people is ADL, the Anti-Defamation League. Since 1913 it has been fighting antisemitism, bigotry, and hate. While the organization deals with problems across the country, it’s organized by region and even has an office right here in New York City.
Second, support educational initiatives about Judaism and anti-Semitism.
At the national level, the ADL is a great resource.
But locally, in our own communities, this support can be as simple as helping the local school, synagogue or community center. For instance, the Charatan/Holm Family foundation actively supports Chabad of Southhampton, Park East Synagogue, The Hampton Synagogue, The Chelsea Shul and the Gottesman RTW Academy.
Another option is to use your own information and resources to share accurate, even positive, stories on social media. The alt-right and Holocaust deniers are loud, but not known for fact-checked, accurate information. Fight ignorance with intelligent articles and stories that tell the truth. New York’s own New York Times and Wall Street Journal are great starting points!
PBS also has an outstanding, ongoing, program, “The Jewish Americans” that tells stories and documents the truths of being Jewish in America. The website has a long list of links to additional educational resources, including The Center for Jewish History.
Finally, it can’t be said too often, never forget.
As much as I’d like to think the world learned from the horrors of the Holocaust during WWII, I also know that people have short memories.
At a time when the White House Press Secretary can casually misrepresent the tragedies of concentration camps, it’s important to support the museums and organizations that keep this history alive.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, D.C., does an excellent job of teaching without flinching from the truth.
More specific stories and remembrances are found at organizations like the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation. Online, and through educational programs, this group shares the stories of the more than 20,000 Jews who fought back against the Nazis.
Whatever organization you choose to support, ensure that your advocacy is loud and proud. Visible support for Jewish communities will go a long way in combatting hatred, because it proves that love is a powerful force in times of joy and in times of strife. Whereas silence can be isolating, raised voices elevate our shared goals: unity and peace.