In January 2020 the Jewish community came together in New York City to rally against anti-Semitism.
The rally was in response to a series of attacks against Jews in December 2019 that included two events of horrific violence targeting Jews in Monsey, New York and Jersey City, New Jersey. Earlier that year, in April 2019, a synagogue was attacked by a white supremacist, resulting in the murder of a congregant.
One year before that attack, in October 2018, the Jewish community in America mourned following the attack against the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Congregation synagogue that killed 11 worshippers at Shabbat services.
In response to these events, B’nai B’rith created and introduced a program called “None Shall Be Afraid.” This program is a way to stand against anti-Semitism, hatred and intolerance in our communities. It was created to help bring awareness to how words and actions matter. It provides tools to help understand the fight we face as Jews. Anti-Semitism is not new—we know of the long history of Jew-hatred in most of the places Jews have lived. While there may have been times of tranquility, Jews have faced the worst experience during the Holocaust, as the Nazis sought to wipe out the Jewish people. While the Holocaust can be referenced between a beginning and end in physical years and occurred decades ago, we are not surprised to see the glorification of Nazis and the denial of the Holocaust itself play out each day today online or in anti-Semitic symbols painted in public places. A key component of the None Shall Be Afraid program is the promotion of a very important tool to help define anti-Semitism. This includes endorsement of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
B’nai B’rith has spoken out against anti-Semitism at times when there are attacks against the Jewish people in places around the world. It also takes the opportunity to educate when events, even when they are not violent, offer a teachable moment.
B’nai B’rith, via staff and international leadership, have participated in international conferences and forums that focused on anti-Semitism. For example, in July 2021, B’nai B’rith International CEO, Daniel S. Mariaschin addressed the 7th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism (GFCA) in Israel that was organized by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to serve as a think tank for the global Jewish community. His presentation focused on contemporary anti-Semitism and its manifestations in history. His approach offered several suggestions to be an advocate for the Jewish people. This includes working with friends and allies of Israel on every level of government. It means sharing this important information with friends, family and colleagues. It calls for educating ourselves as well as others about Jewish history, especially the contribution that Jews have made to make the world a better place. B’nai B’rith is also involved in many coalitions on the subject, adding our voice to speak out when Israel and Zionism are attacked on the street, as well as at international meetings sponsored by the United Nations, such as the Durban IV Conference held last month.
You can get involved by taking a deeper look at the None Shall Be Afraid program here. None Shall Be Afraid offers answers you need to become and encourage others to be an advocate for the Jewish people. This also includes an important first step that you can take. Take our pledge to fight anti-Semitism here.
The title of None Shall Be Afraid comes from the letter exchange between President George Washington and Moses Seixas, writing on behalf of the congregation of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode
Island in 1790. In it, George Washington quotes Micah 4:4—"Everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid."
The letter would find its place in history as the promise of the United States to the Jewish citizens to provide a place they could live and be free of bigotry and persecution. It was to be no place for intolerance, hatred and violence. We take that promise seriously and will continue to speak out in response to threats to Jews and around the world. Help us spread this important message by taking the pledge today. If you have already signed on, take another step and send it to friends and family asking them to get involved. Mention it at the next virtual program you attend and provide the link. The more voices that become part of this call to educate, the stronger our advocacy.
If you are getting together with family this Thanksgiving, print out the pledge and share it with your guests. Share your own experiences with anti-Semitism and listen to your children and grandchildren about what they face on campus. Let your parents share what they experienced in the past. It will offer a glimpse into Jewish history, especially if you have the fortune to have the precious Holocaust survivors in your family. Write down their experience to share as part of your family’s legacy and please share your stories with me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can include this in our Annual Yom Hashoah programming in April 2022.
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