Tag Archives: vandalized graves

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

 

headstones-turned-over

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

headstones-turned-over

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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