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8 Jewish Stories to Read About the Charlottesville Rally

8 Jewish Stories to Read About the Charlottesville Rally

Protesters hold shields and Confederate flags at an alt right rally in Charlottesville Virginia

During Shabbat, our day of rest, terrible events took place in Charlottesville, VA. A "Unite the Right" protest organized by the alt-right turned bloody, violent, and ultimately deadly as tensions escalated, fights broke out, and one attendee drove his car through a sea of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring dozens more. Headlines and videos out of the event are shocking and painful: Protesters donned Nazi imagery, heiled Hitler, and held signs bearing statements like "Jews are Satan's children." Holding torches and Confederate flags, they chanted "Black lives don't matter!" and "Jews will not replace us!"

In the hours since the event, Jewish organizations have come out in condemnation of the event, and Jewish media outlets have run a number of articles and essays about the event and its aftermath. Here, we round up a few of the pieces you'll want to read.

  1. One of the first Jewish pieces to come out in the wake of the rally was Deborah Nussbaum-Cohen’s Haaratez article titled “Charlottesville Rally: Rabbis, Jewish Students Face Down White Nationalists.” She spoke with one rabbi who told her, "I’ve been going to demonstrations for literally 50 years & have never seen the level of chaos & hatred that I saw today."
  2. The Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish movement in North America, issued a statement at the end of Shabbat condemning the event. Said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ president, “The vile presence and rhetoric of the neo-Nazis who marched this weekend in Charlottesville is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to stand strong, to speak loudly against hate, and act both to delegitimize those who spread such messages and to mitigate the harm done to the commonweal of our nation and to those that are the targets of hate messages.”
  3. JTA rounded up statements from a number of Jewish organizations, including the Reform Movement’s statement. Additional statements come from the Anti-Defamation League, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee and others.
  4. In "My Family Is Black and Jewish. Here’s What Charlottesville Means To Me," Carly Pildis writes, “Today, it was personal. It was the pain of watching men march in opposition to our bi-racial Jewish-Black family. They oppose my life as Jew and the lives of my family members as Black Jews. They find the family life that brings me such joy to be an abomination.”
  5. Jewish journalist Ron Kampeas, who was on the ground reporting from Charlottesville, writes about what he saw there and how he was personally targeted for “looking” Jewish. Describing the scene, he says, “Among the 500 white supremacists were men and women bearing signs like ‘Goyim know!’ (Know what?) and ‘Jews are satans children.’ There were Nazi flags. There were men all in black, t-shirts and slacks and army boots and helmets, jogging along with plastic shields.”
  6. In The Times of Israel’s overview of the day and its aftermath, Jewish counter-protester Emma Kaplan, who traveled to Charlottesville from Brooklyn, says, “I’m down here because I think it’s all of our responsibility to stop fascism that’s happening in America. And I don’t say that ’cause it’s hyperbole. I know what that means. I’m a second generation Holocaust survivor. My great grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz.”
  7. The rally made news overseas, too. Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and called on US leaders to denounce its “displays of anti-Semitism.”
  8. In a Haaretz piece called simply “We’re Dealing With Something Very Dark,” one veteran says, “I served in Vietnam, and one of my first thoughts yesterday was, this is like a guerrilla war. It’s our own people doing this to us, coming with an intent to cause damage. They want to show people that one group is superior to others – that goes against our founding document, against what most of us believe.”

Join the Reform Jewish community's response to the hate and bigotry in Charlottesville. This week, #BeTheLightForJustice: Take a photo of yourself holding a candle of unity, then post it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag. Next, learn about action steps to take for direct responses to terror from the Union for Reform Judaism.

Kate (Bigam) Kaput is the digital communications manager for the Union for Reform Judaism, serving as a content manager and editor for ReformJudaism.org. She is a proud alumna of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Eisendrath Legislative Assistant fellowship and also served as the RAC's press secretary. A native Ohioan, Kate grew up at Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson, OH, and holds a degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University. She lives in Cleveland with her husband, Mike. 

Kate Kaput
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