First, it was our community centers. Now, it's our cemeteries and schools. And my heart is breaking.
If you watch the news on a daily basis, you may be have heard about the swelling number of bomb threats being called into Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) throughout North America, with that number reaching more than 120 total just this past Monday, February 27, 2017.
Small children and seniors have had to endure mandatory evacuations from these buildings evacuated in at least 33 states in the U.S. and two Canadian providences — and the situation has spread a strong stench of fear to the Jewish community, including myself.
I live in Orlando, Florida, and we've seen our fair share of anti-Semitic attacks.
Just this week a 12-year-old Jewish student found three swastikas and the message, "Why are the ovens getting hotter?" scrawled across her assigned seat on the public school bus she rides twice each day.
"There were 56 hate crimes reported in New York City as of Sunday, Feb. 12, up from just 31 incidents over the same time period last year, according to figures released today by the New York Police Department. The increase was led by a rise in anti-Semitic crimes, which jumped from 13 to 28. No other category of hate crime was in double digits."
While the graffiti and swastikas have been removed, the message of hatred cannot be erased.
It's even affecting our dead. In the span of just two weeks, three Jewish cemeteries in the U.S. have been vandalized — first in St. Louis, then Philadelphia, and most recently in Rochester, New York. Between just the first two cemeteries, approximately 300 tombstones were turned over and broken.
I can only imagine what the families of the loved ones buried there must be thinking or feeling. I have several dear family members — including my mother, grandfather, grandmother, and great-grandmother — buried in a Jewish cemetery in South Florida.
If this ever happened there, I would lose my mind.
How deep must your hatred be to target the most helpless among us — our children, our seniors, and our dead?
Thankfully, gracious friends in the Muslim community have spoken out against the vicious attacks and have offered their help.
Tarek El-Messidi, who runs a Muslim non-profit called Celebrate Mercy, started a fundraising campaign with political organizer Linda Sarsour after the first cemetery was attacked in St. Louis. The fund quickly reached, and even surpassed its goal, now having raised over $130,000.
The pair plan to use the extra money to help repair the damage in the Philadelphia cemetery as well.
What can you do to help?
Speak up. Use your social media accounts — Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. — and share what's going on so that more people will be aware.
I'm asking the same from our President, because the more we shed light on these hateful acts, the more we can effect change.
We WILL get through this.
"They bend and fall, but we rise and stand firm." — Tehillim 20:8