One year ago, the American Jewish community suffered the most brutal anti-Semitic attack in its history when a gunman shattered the sanctity of Shabbat — the Jewish Sabbath — in the Tree of Life building in Pittsburgh, taking the lives of eleven innocent people as they prayed.
Weeks before, the Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti — a reminder that hate impacts us directly at home as well.
Frighteningly, the number of anti-Semitic assaults in the United States doubled in 2018. Those numbers have risen even higher this year. ADL has reported at least 50 incidents since Pittsburgh, including vandalism, the distribution of anti-Semitic propaganda, and the shooting at the Chabad of Poway this past spring.
Hate is not just attacking Jews, but people of all faiths and backgrounds, from Christchurch to Sri Lanka, and closer to home with the recent arson targeting African-American churches in St. Landry Parish.
As Jews, our faith mandates that we stand up against all hate, whether based on faith or race, gender, sexuality, or any other factors. Sitting by idly as others are at risk is not in keeping with the values and traditions of Judaism. This simple concept guides so much of our work here and across the region, leading to a widening of our outreach — including advocacy for our LGBTQIA+ neighbors, promotion of criminal justice reform, and support for the civil rights of all.
This Sunday, Oct. 27, we will honor the memories of those murdered a year ago at the Tree of Life Synagogue as part of "Pause with Pittsburgh.” We invite you to join with us that day at 4 p.m. to share a collective moment of remembrance, pausewithpittsburgh.com.
On Sunday, Nov. 3, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, and ADL South Central Region invite you to join us at City Park as we plant a tree in memory of the eleven people lost to hate in Pittsburgh.
Hate against one metastasizes into hate against all. Together, though, we can repudiate it in favor of love and respect.
Joshua S. Force
board chair, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans