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5 Powerful Jewish Voices: A Round-Up on Charlottesville

5 Powerful Jewish Voices: A Round-Up on Charlottesville

Disembodied hands holding a newspaper

Since last Shabbat, lots of ink and more than a few keystrokes have been devoted to Charlottesville – the rally itself, events in the aftermath, and various perspectives on what it all means for this country and our Jewish community. 

The news articles, personal essays, videos, and social media conversations are endless, and it is seemingly impossible to take it all in. Nonetheless, we’ve rounded-up a handful of blog posts, articles, and videos to share some especially powerful Jewish voices at this unsettling time.

  1. “It is not hard to discern moral clarity between hate and love, between white supremacists and standing in community, in solidarity, in diversity,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in a CBS News interview.
  2. In a New York Times op-ed column, writer Nathan Englander reflects on the anti-Semitism of his Long Island childhood, Jewish pride, and how it all got wiped away after one single day in Charlottesville.
  3. From the front of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, Alan Zimmerman, the synagogue’s president gives us an eyewitness account of what he saw and heard on that fateful day – and how his community plans to move forward.
  4. Further away, from Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas in St. Thomas, VI, Rabbi Michael Feshbach tells his congregation this:

Maybe we are far away and maybe ‘our’ Charlotte Amalie is not their Charlottesville and maybe there actually is less history of anti-Semitism here in the Virgin Islands than in other places. But the very sand on our floor is a reminder of hatred and persecution and fear. The stories of the scrolls in our ark tell their own tales of relocation and dispersion…. [E]ven in a country with a separation of church and state, even in a world in which religion has, indeed, sewn seeds of division and hatred, nevertheless at its core, seen the way it should be, the entire enterprise of the spiritual is a vision of unity and equality.  Done right, religion can be a force to bring us together. Our faith can help, and heal, and lift us toward the holy.  

  1. Although she never felt an overpowering need to belong to a synagogue, Charlottesville changed all that for Katie Colt. In this essay, she explains, “I want to be a member of a group that provides alliance to other targeted minority groups, and advocates for peace. I want to find strength with people who are not afraid to stand up for themselves, and stand up for justice.” Find a Reform synagogue near you.

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.

Jane E. Herman , a.k.a. JanetheWriter, is the senior writer and editor at the Union for Reform Judaism. She is a graduate of Lafayette College in Easton, PA, and holds a master's degree in public administration from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. She grew up at Temple Emanu-El in Edison, NJ, and now belongs to Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City. A proud New Yorker, she loves books, fountain pens, social media, Words with Friends, mah jongg, and all things Jewish. She blogs at JanetheWriter Writes.

Jane E. Herman
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