Ask any CEO of a Jewish Federation or JCC what keeps them up at night and to a person they will each say the possibility of members of their Jewish community coming under attack simply for “being Jewish.”
Take a moment and let that sink in. As faith communities and their members across the country struggle with everyday concerns facing many Americans such as food insecurity, dearth of affordable housing, economic inequality, and a disparity in educational opportunities, how unfortunate that time, effort, energy and resources of clergy and institutional leaders has to be put toward the simple task of protecting their flock from harm due solely because of the color of their skin or to which god they pray.
The shooting at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo hit the national JCRC community hard given a co-worker of one of the agency volunteers was injured in the attack. As it feels like we are called to do time and again, our Federation and JCRC put out a statement expressing our solidarity with the people of Buffalo and standing arm in arm with our targeted Black brothers and sisters in conveying our unwavering fight to combat prejudice, bigotry, antisemitism and all forms of hate. But as our local JCRC leadership often says, these statements are just words, when what is needed is action—action by government, action by law enforcement, action by institutions such as ours and most importantly actions by everyday individuals.
Although we are very fortunate that our local Jewish Federation, with support from the Raymond & Gertrude R. Saltzman Foundation, has invested in establishing a Federation security department supporting the community-wide needs of all Jewish institutions throughout South Jersey under the leadership of William “Bud” Monaghan, each of us can still play a part in helping to break down the stereotypes, biases, and “fear of the other” that foster hatred of others.
So, as is typical in my column, I am strongly encouraging each of you to take the first step in understanding some of the root causes of antisemitism and other forms of prejudice by taking part in our 2nd annual community-wide JCRC Book Club. Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, we have secured hundreds of copies of the book “It Could Happen Here, Why America is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable— And How We Can Stop It” by Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL. If you would like to receive a complimentary copy, and commit to participating in or hosting a facilitator-led small-group discussion about what you as an individual can do to help combat hate, please register at www.jcrcsnj.org/bookclub and a member of the Book Club Committee will be in touch.