Like many members of the Jewish community in Arizona and around the world, to observe the High Holidays meant walking by police officers at the entrance of synagogues and temples. That is a reality and necessity facing Jews locally and globally.

The single deadliest anti-Semitic attack in United States history will be commemorated on Oct. 27. Eleven people were murdered by a white supremacist at the Tree of Life building in Pittsburgh, which housed three congregations.

Sadly, that attack would be followed by more acts of violence and intended violence against Jews and other religious groups.

The FBI warns that domestic terrorism is one of the most urgent national security threats in the United States today. We’ve seen orchestrated and coordinated propaganda by neo-Nazi groups targeting synagogues across the country. White supremacy is a disease, and the United States is currently experiencing an epidemic.

Attacks against Jewish institutions have been thwarted in Youngstown, Ohio, and in Las Vegas, Nevada — where a white supremacist intended to attack a synagogue and the ADL Nevada regional office. And, while no violence resulted, the attempt was clearly meant to intimidate our Jewish community.

The threat is not limited to American soil, as white supremacist violence continues at a global level. Closer to home, in Arizona, anti-Semitic acts of harassment and vandalism continue to escalate annually. In 2018, the increase was by 23%.

We must face that we’re in an unprecedented time in our American history. From African American churchgoers in Charleston, Jews in Pittsburgh and Poway and Sikhs in Oak Creek to Muslims in New Zealand and Latinos in El Paso, vulnerable and marginalized communities are under attack. White supremacy is indiscriminate in its discrimination.

Policymakers and industry leaders need to step up and take solid, concrete action to stop this extremism from spreading. The White House must call out this threat by name. We need for social media platforms to enforce their terms of service and take down hate speech. We need all faith communities, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations to step forward and lock arms and stand together. 

We need you.

Make no mistake, our continued Jewish existence is resistance to extremism and white nationalism.

One of the best responses and advice that I’ve heard on how we can respond to the tragic attacks from Pittsburgh to Poway is from Rabbi David Sandmel:It is important for us to remember this moment. The real blessing comes when that remembering inspires us to act. None of us can do everything; each of us can do something.”

In the days after the attack at the Tree of Life building, author Monica Brown reached out to ADL’s Arizona regional office and shared a poem entitledTree of Life.” Her words then and now commemorate the lives lost and our call to remember, love and to do something:

Tree of Life

Tree of Wisdom

Tree of Light

We bear witness

The profane tremor 

of eleven dead 

taken

on a sacred day, 

in a sacred space. 

Joyce Fienberg

Richard Gottfried

Rose Mallinger

Jerry Rabinowitz

Cecil Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

Bernice Simon

Sylvan Simon

Daniel Stein

Melvin Wax

Irving Younger

Tree of Life

Tree of Wisdom

Tree of Light

We bear witness

Foulness steps out into the light

reflected  

and 

refracted

by malevolent

sons

A clarion call. 

A bell and a warning.

We bear witness

Bark thickens

Roots sink deep into the earth 

Leaves seek sunlight

May their memories be for blessing

May their lives inspire love

Tree of Life

Tree of Wisdom

Tree of Light

We bear witness

We bend our branches

towards compassion

justice

Tikkun Olam

A healing of the world

Tree of Life

Tree of Wisdom

Tree of Light

We bear witness  JN

 

Carlos Galindo-Elvira is ADL Arizona’s regional director and can be followed on Twitter @carlosgeADL. 

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