October 27th, 2018: I was on the phone with my dad and he told me that there was was a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. I quickly ran downstairs and told my mom to turn on the news.
As soon as she switched the channel, our hearts sank, and our lives as Jewish Americans would be forever changed. To me, Pittsburgh marked a turning point in the rise of anti-Semitism in America. Pittsburgh is the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history. How could 11 people be killed just because they were Jewish? In AMERICA? That’s a hard reality to contemplate, for many of us.
Days later, I participated in the “Show Up For Shabbat” initiative with the American Jewish Committee (AJC). This was intended to help Jewish communities come together in the face of hatred. This event made a strong impact on me, so much so that I made ribbons and raised $150 for the Tree of Life Synagogue. I just want people to know that Anti-Semitism has no place in America or the world, period.
One year later, it still hits home for me. Since Pittsburgh, I think more actively about how proud I am to be Jewish. Pittsburgh holds a very special place in my heart, and I wish I could have physically been there to help comfort the community.
Jews comprise 2% of America's population but are targeted by 60% of the country's religious motivated hate crimes. A recent American-Jewish Committee survey states that 9 out of 10 US Jews believe anti-semitism is a rising problem. A staggering 84% of survey participants stated that is has increased, with 43% stating it has “increased a lot”, and the remaining 41% stating that it has “increased somewhat”. 55% of the survey's participants stated that the status of Jews in the US is “about the same as a year ago”. A staggering 88% of survey participants stated that anti-Semitism is a problem in America, with 38% calling it a “very serious problem”, and 50% calling it “somewhat of a problem”.
As Jews, we have always faced challenges, and have risen above them. Through the power of Tikkun Olam, we have a chance to make a change. Not only are we the leaders of tomorrow, but we are also the leaders of today and the leaders of right now.
Say the Mourners Kaddish, tell people you love them, connect with G-d, yourself, or your community. Heal, pray, cry, mourn and do whatever you must. Most importantly take some time to educate yourself, vote, and take action. Exude compassion, hug tight, and spread the love!
Perri Schwartz is a BBG from B’yachad BBG #2495 in Greater Atlanta Region #55. She has photographic memory, loves to fight for what she belives in, and hopes to be a professional journalist.
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