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Antisemitism Is Here to Stay

When I spoke with my mother this week she remarked, “I never imagined that you and your brother Michael, who is also a rabbi, are in a dangerous profession.” Now even though my mom can sometimes be overly dramatic and does tend to personalize even the most distant of world events (I come by these traits naturally), her comments do on this occasion deserve unpacking rather than the usual brushing away. Moms often verbalize fears and, on this occasion, the singular fear that has entered the sacred space of our synagogue sanctuaries.

My Christian friends do not have security guards at their church’s doors. Their congregants do not receive emails detailing new security protocols. What was once only the purview of synagogues in Europe or common in Israel where every gathering place has a guard, has now become normative in our own beloved country.

For obvious reasons I am not going to publicly discuss what security enhancements we are putting in place and we are working on. Rest assured our synagogue will always be safe and secure.

Most mornings I say the blessing, “Baruch Atah…matir asurim. Blessed are You Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who frees the captive.” To be honest, this was always said as just one among many in that long list of morning blessings. Sometimes I thought to myself, “That was for a different age and a different time.” Never before did I think I would see these words come to life in my own age and that my blessing would be realized by a fellow Reform rabbi and his congregants. On Saturday evening, I felt as if a miracle came to be and then I thought, “Being Jewish, praying in synagogue and just being rescued from murder should not be a miracle.” Being a living Jew should not be dependent on heroics.

Most of my friends who follow the words and traditions of other faiths do not understand or appreciate what I felt this past weekend or for that matter, what we are now feeling.

I had this sense that for those harrowing eleven hours we were one people...