Opinion: Anti-Semitism then and now

By Daniel Alder, Rabbi of the Brotherhood Synagogue

This week I visited with the older children in our religious school to speak with them about the horrific massacre of praying Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Shabbat. They had previously been taught about anti-Semitism in Jewish history and recent anti-Jewish attacks in Israel and in Europe. Now, for the first time, they had to assimilate the very real, virulent form of anti-Semitism here in the United States.

One of the scariest things about today’s rise in anti-Semitism is that it is coming both from the far right and the radical left. From the right, white supremacists and neo-Nazis don’t just consider Jews an enemy, alongside immigrants and people of color, but the ultimate enemy. And from the extreme left, Jews are vilified for their prominence and support of Israel. Anti-Semitism appeals to defiant bigots and proud justice-seeking universalists alike.

The Anti-Defamation League reported a near 60 percent increase increase in harassment, vandalism and assault of Jews and Jewish institutions in 2017. The largest single year increase on record. Synagogues here in our neighborhood need to hire security guards to protect their buildings and congregants on Shabbat and during the week.

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