Tag Archives: JCC Bomb Threats

Open Letter to the Jewish community: It’s time to unite

 

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have an important choice to make.  Do we continue to battle each other over differences in political ideology or do we move forward and work towards our mutual safety and survival?  I have no doubt that most people reading this letter will choose to work towards our collective well-being, the question is whether or not we are willing and able to put our differences aside.  I am hopeful the answer is yes.  I realize that many believe it is impossible to make that distinction,  but the threats we face today are far more serious than political philosophies.  They are a matter of life and death.

With graves being desecrated in St. Louis and Philadelphia, and bomb threats against JCCs throughout the country becoming far too frequent, the threat to American Jewry appears to be coordinated and organized.  That would make it significantly more dangerous.  From the time of the first round of bomb scares I was concerned that it was a test run to see how the Jewish community and law enforcement would respond.  The gamble that these will only remain threats is a gamble no one can or should be willing to take, for it is a gamble with lives.

Whether we support or oppose our new administration, it is now time to make a concerted effort to make sure we help our government protect us. Regardless of whether we are staunch Liberals or Conservatives, blaming the other side for the threats and atrocities of today is neither the answer nor is it fair to either side.  Jewish Democrats and Republicans need to stop attacking each other over differences in political ideology.  That doesn’t mean we need to agree, and it doesn’t mean we need to cease our opposition of the other side’s political platform, but it does mean we need to stop the opposition towards each other. We need to cease with the personal attacks and unite against the enemy.We need to realize and accept that most of us want the same thing, a peaceful existence for our people and community.  That means it’s time for both sides to stop seeing the other side as culpable for the dangers facing us, no matter how much we oppose the other’s politics.  If we fight among ourselves we are aiding and abetting the the true enemy.  An enemy who at best wants to terrorize us, at worst wants to kill us.  I guarantee each and every one of you, no matter how far you may lean to the left or the right of the political aisle, the vast majority of Jewish people do not want to see their fellows Jews terrorized or physically harmed.  In most cases the intensity and in some cases extremism is actually motivated by a powerful desire to see our people live safe and happy lives.

It is OK that we disagree on certain policies, even if those policies impact the lives of the Jewish community in Israel and abroad, but that disagreement must stop taking the place of unity, because if it does the enemy has won a very key element of the war, and I know that most of us do not want that.

All discussions can easily descend into criticism of Liberals and Conservatives, but we need to step back and ask ourselves if by doing so we are allowing ourselves to be dangerously distracted.  If we need to mobilize and organize in defense of each other we need to put politics aside.  We need to spend our energies being vigilant in identifying and exposing dangers to the community and we need to provide each other with critical support when needed.

Our next steps need to work with law enforcement and each other in finding out who is doing this and stopping it from not only continuing, but developing into something worse. Our next step is not to bash the other for his or her political choices but to openly discuss and study what’s happening in the hope we find important answers that will help keep our communities safe.

I extend this challenge to all of you, but no less than I extend it to myself.  Let’s work together.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Heads up:A Jewish Resident of Philadelphia gives a First Hand Account

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Today we cancelled a lock down drill.

Today we cancelled a lock down drill at school that was scheduled for a little before noon. Earlier this morning, we got a call from our sister school, the elementary Jewish Day School which lovingly prepares the majority of our incoming middle schoolers. There was a bomb threat and they were evacuating. Everyone was safe. The police were there. The teachers and children, ages 5-10, were cooperating.

Heads up.

We were already on alert. Earlier this month we had learned of the threats to JCCs and other Jewish institutions. Just the day before, I went with my mother and my daughter to the Mt. Carmel cemetery in Philadelphia minutes after I learned that it had been vandalized, terrorized, dehumanized. Scores of tombstones were thrown from their bases. Sheets of carved rock with Hebrew names and dates of past souls were broken. A man there tried to comfort me “it was probably some drunk kids having fun”.

Sigh.

I was not comforted. I was shaken by the images, by the souls, by the disregard for human decency. This could not have been a couple of drunk kids. These memorials were heavy stones, intentionally rocked from their core. This took effort. A couple of drunk kids would’ve given up after 8 or nine. They would have had their dose of adrenaline, worked up a sweat and leaned back on a still intact tombstone, grateful for it’s upright support.

No. These acts took stamina and determination.

Today we cancelled a lock down drill at school because 17 Jewish organizations were responding to actual bomb threats on this very day.

Babies were pulled from their cribs and evacuated from day cares. Elderly men and women hurriedly climbed out of JCC aqua aerobics classes, rushing to cover their wet bodies. Parents at work and in the market and at the doctor answered the call they dread.

We live in a world where lock down drills are cancelled because so many Jewish institutions are actually reacting to genuine threats of terror.

Today, February 27, 2017, at least 20 Jewish community facilities in 12 states received bomb threats. In the two months since Jan. 1, 2017 there have been over 70 bomb threats in

26 states and one Canadian province. No this is not a couple of drunk kids.

Who, then? Who is dialing, terrorizing, pushing over tombstones? Who is halting us in our tracks? Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Because we are 5000 years strong. We are in every state, in every city and we will not be scared away. We will stand with the good people of the world and our love and light will finally reach you in your hidden, dark, secret, pitiful, shameful corners of hate.

Never again” is a promise we made. It will take all of us, everywhere, every day, until forever.

Heads up.

 

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Open Letter to Steven Goldstein of the Anne Frank Center regarding his statement to the President

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Dear Mr. Goldstein,

In some ways this is the most ironic letter I’ve written to date.  Here I am, the son of Dutch Holocaust survivors and a critic of Donald Trump, writing a letter of opposition to the Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in response to his criticism of President Trump.  It must be clear from my background and personal introduction that despite my disagreement with you on the subject I am about to discuss, you and I are unquestionably on the same side.

My issue is with the following statement you made regarding the President’s comments made earlier today on the increase in anti-Semitic activity, threats and rhetoric.

“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”

Although both you and I agree that more needs to  be done, I also believe there is a time and place for everything.  I agree the president’s words mean nothing without action, but that does not negate the positive step taken today.  Your statement focuses more on what hasn’t been done before today rather than what actually was done today.  If we are to demand our leaders take action, it is my belief that the time to criticize them is not immediately after their acknowledgment of the problem.  As we have seen time and time again, the words of the President of the United States are more than just words, they are instruments of action.  Furthermore, if you look back at what I have written you will see that I not only am not an apologist for Donald Trump, I am a vocal critic.  But I also try to be fair and reasonable.  It is my contention that as I sit here today, the President of the United States did today what he needed to do today.  That does not mean he will do the right thing tomorrow or the day after.  If he doesn’t do what is needed in the coming days, that will be the time to criticize him for lack of action.  Today I find it far more reasonable to be pleased he is acknowledging the problem.

As the son of Holocaust survivors I have never backed away from attacking those I feel to be enemies of the Jewish people.  I heard the stories from my parents, read the history and know of the death and suffering of my relatives and the relatives of so many others.  I subsequently feel it is crucial to go after those who declare their hate towards us before we go after those who at least say words of support for our well-being and safety. Although I wholeheartedly agree that we must hold the President of the United States accountable for his actions and what happens moving forward, today he at least verbally declared he is on our side, and for that I am far more likely to thank him than criticize him.

As I have said in previous writings, I am not yet convinced this President will be anything close to what I want him to be, but regarding the issue of anti-Semitism, as a Jewish American, today he was what I needed him to be.  I believe we have more to gain by acknowledging that than criticizing it.  It would appear that is where you and I disagree.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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