How can I help my Jewish neighbors in this difficult time? By combatting fear (letter)
Every Jewish institution in the world from Pittsburgh to Addis Ababa, Belgium to Tel Aviv and, yes, even Vail worries that the next targets for anti-Semitic violence will be them. Saturday’s attack did not come as a surprise; our history has shown that it isn’t a question of if but when and where. In the past decade alone, there have been eight successful mass murders at explicitly Jewish sites, and this isn’t a recent trend. As a community and as individuals, we grieve and prepare for the next shoe to drop.
To my neighbors who aren’t Jewish:
Whenever something like the attack in Pittsburgh takes place, there are two questions that regularly come up from my friends who aren’t Jewish. How can I help my Jewish neighbors in this difficult time? What can I do to help prevent such attacks in the future?
The answer to both of these questions is similar: You need to combat fear. Most synagogues have regular services that are open to the public. Go to one, especially if doing so makes you uncomfortable. Show your local synagogue that their presence in the community is welcome with your attendance. If you’re a law enforcement officer, perhaps volunteer to provide security on a night off. Fear stems from ignorance and firsthand experience is the best way to break down those walls. Get to know your Jewish friends in a Jewish context, and encourage others to do the same.
To my Jewish neighbors:
When a member of a pack of coyote is killed, there’s an interesting reaction by the females of the pack: the size of their next litter is significantly larger than normal. This behavior makes hunting them when in packs counterproductive for population control.
Our response needs to be similar. Even if you’re not typically the synagogue-going type, show up this week. Show those who want to kill us that their attempts at genocide only make our communities stronger. Just as important, show your local Jewish community that, even though you may not be a “regular” or a dues-paying member, you have their back when needed and are ultimately part of the community, as well.
B’nai Vail is the Jewish congregation in Eagle County. As long as your intentions are peaceful, you are welcome in our home. Our next public service is on Friday evening. If you want to visit, please come between 5 and 6, which is our social hour before the service, which begins at 6. That will give you a chance to meet Rabbi Newman, Cantor Michelle and the rest of the congregation. Feel free to contact us in advance with any questions via http://bnaivail.org.