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American Jews living in a free country

08/08/2022 05:37:17 PM


Rabbi Scott E. Colbert, D.Min.

I grew up in Los Angeles proud to be Jewish. For most of my long career, I never thought that I would need to address antisemitism as a contemporary American problem. Was I burying my head in the sand? I don’t think so. My job is to teach Jews to be proud of their religion, to encourage the observance of meaningful Jewish ritual and traditions, to love the Jewish people, to love the State of Israel, to understand Jewish history and celebrate that we are American Jews, living in a free country.

Last year, an antisemitic incident occurred where two different high schools in the same district near our Atlanta home were vandalized right before the High Holy Days. Several members of the Jewish community protested the school board’s apparent lack of disciplinary measures for the perpetrators. Karen and I stood with parents and students supporting them in their fight with the school board.

Then, last week, I was confronted with the news that another antisemitic incident occurring in the same Cobb County School District that neighbors my house in Atlanta. The controversy surrounds a logo designed for East Side Elementary in Marietta, Georgia. The similarity of the chosen school logo to the Nazi Eagle with a swastika in its talons is stunning. Many people claimed that we Jews are over sensitive about incidents such as this. I don’t think so.

Incidents of antisemitism doubled in 2021. We know that ignoring antisemitism will not make it go away. Indeed, understanding that antisemitism is a form of racism may better help the younger generation understand its implications. For those of us reading this newsletter, it is important for us to understand the roots of antisemitism. In the past, Jews were excluded from country club memberships or neighborhoods. Much overt antisemitism disappeared in the last half of the twentieth century. Following the Shoah, it became unfashionable to state anti-Jewish feelings. But in the last few years, antisemitism has reared its ugly head once again. Later this year, I will teach a class on the history of antisemitism. I hope you will all attend.

Wed, May 22 2024 14 Iyyar 5784