This week, Bari Weiss, editor for the opinion section of the New York Times, became the news when she resigned citing “bullying by colleagues.” Bullying has long been a concern in our society, and it comes in personal and communal forms. These recent weeks we’ve seen an uptick in the kind of bullying we label Anti-Semitism. Weiss in her recently published book How to Fight Anti-Semitism noted that we have a special responsibility when we see these winds stirring again: “That a Jew would see a storm threatening and write to warn of its gathering is not new.” Indeed the storm seems to be gaining strength once again as false accusations and stigmatizing stereotypes of our community and of Israel swirl all around us from every direction. To combat this rise in Anti-Semitism around us, Weiss would have us consider three key strategies: “One is how we orient ourselves toward our enemies. The second is how we orient ourselves toward our allies. And the third, and most important is how we orient ourselves toward ourselves.”
When respected athlete and columnist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar titled his piece “Where is the Outrage Over Anti-Semitism in Sports and Hollywood?” he called out enemies of the Jews and showed himself a strong ally reminding his readers “If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.” Similarly, athlete and sports commentator Charles Barkley allied himself to the Jewish people saying “Y’all want racial equality…I don’t understand how insulting another group helps our cause….” As we reach out to support others through our commitment to tikun olam—to repairing the world for all, we must not allow the festering of speech that maligns the Jewish people and delegitimizes Israel to go unchallenged. Let us not forget that we Jews remain both the canary in the dark coal mine and a light unto the nations.
Fighting Anti-Semitism is not just about calling out bullies and finding our allies, but it also looks like holding firmly to our traditions with confidence and unapologetically embracing our uniqueness as a people and civilization with conviction.
I look forward to sharing the joys of our Jewish heritage with you as we affirm our tradition together through Celebrating Jewish Life. Know that we’ll take every precaution and follow guidelines to make decisions about how/where we gather. Attached are our plans for the upcoming year. Please feel free to share the flyer with friends and let me know of your friends who you think would enjoy being part of our community. The flier is available to download form any page of Celebrating Jewish Life you go to.
Celebrating Jewish Life was founded on the principle that the social and the sacred nature of Judaism go hand-in-hand. It is our peoplehood and religious traditions that define us. As we address the challenges and opportunities before us, we do so with a sense of caring and concern for one another, and with hopeful anticipation of being together again in whatever way will be comfortable for you.
For the High Holy Days, we will be in the majestic space of Landerhaven’s Grand Ball Room which seats over 1,000 at tables and can easily accommodate us with social distancing. We will exercise caution as we enter and maintain mask and hand sanitizing practices. In order to prevent people from walking around without masks, after you register, you’ll be invited to proceed leisurely to the tables in the large ballroom. Our tables will be socially distanced, and at each table, we’ll allow for family units to be seated together, or you can identify if you’re comfortable with sharing a table with another family unit. (We will seat only four to five people at any table.) After dinner, rather than move to rows of seats, we will remain at the tables, replace our masks, and continue with the service. Our inspiring music and the sounding of the shofar will be arranged to maintain appropriate guidelines. I think this will minimize confusion and help us to keep our safety standards at the necessary level while we pray together.
Arrangements have also been made for live streaming or virtual models to accommodate varying scenarios so that friends at home can join with us. Dinner pick-ups will be made available for those at home.
Please be assured that we will respond to the changing circumstances as necessary. We invite you to participate in whatever way you are comfortable. The most important thing is that we celebrate together!
Wishing you and yours, some enjoyment during these summer months as you stay safe. Hugs, Rosie