The Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix released a short video June 9, encouraging the Jewish community to remember its heritage and to find strength in community during a time of increased antisemitism. The video was released two days after Tucson’s Chabad of River’s front door was spray-painted with a swastika and antisemitic slur.
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman, the board’s new president as well as the spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillah, opened the video speaking of the resilience of the Jewish community. She also invited people to be more involved community-minded.
“May we find strength, as we always have, in one another,” she said.
Rabbi Aviva Funke advised viewers “to use the pain of antisemitism to propel more justice in the world.” Funke is the principal of Hebrew High, a program of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Phoenix.
She also said people should use the mission of tikkun to get through this difficult moment as well as to embrace Jewish traditions in response to antisemitism.
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, president and dean of Valley Beit Midrash, reminded viewers of the story of Abraham and how he was “willing to smash idols and swim against the tide.” And while fear may be justified, he said, Jews should also remember to be proud of Jewish history and heritage and hold one another close.
Temple Chai Rabbi Bonnie Koppell began her segment by pointing out the biblical story of Jacob and Esau and the preparations being made for a “challenging reunion.” Those lessons are applicable to the current climate in terms of the security, reaching out and prayer involved, she said.
Rabbi Stein Kokin of Beth El Congregation filmed herself while in Utah. Pointing to the landscape behind her, she said that it reminds people to take a “wide angle perspective” of the history, heritage and wisdom of the Jewish people. She also advised the community to stand together as one, telling viewers, “we are a people of survivors.”
Temple Beth Emeth Rabbi Zari Sussman reminded viewers that “being Jewish is amazing.” She also expressed her hope that in the future, humanity will come to appreciate that all people are children of God, but until that day everyone must continue to speak out against hatred and antisemitism.
Rabbi Jeremy Schneider of Temple Kol Ami finished the video saying the best response to antisemitism is “joyful Jewish living.” JN