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Dear Friends,

During my 3rd year of Rabbinic School I served as a teaching assistant for a university course on Ethics and the Holocaust. At one point in the year a student raised her hand and asked, “Do you think something like this could happen here in America?” I immediately replied, “Absolutely not,” and went on to explain that America, founded on individual rights and a commitment to working toward a “more perfect union” made America fundamentally different than pre-Nazi Germany.

Were I asked that question today my answer would still be “no” but it would not be immediate and it would certainly be accompanied by an extensive list of qualifiers.

Here are a few reasons why.

At an Arizona School Board meeting an enraged parent attacked the members of the Board over mask and vaccine mandates but ended her remarks with “You want to make this about race? Okay. It’s the Jews.”
Not a single member of the School Board addressed the comment in the moment.

In Austin, Texas, someone set a fire just outside a local synagogue causing at least $25,000 in damage. Thankfully no one was injured.

In Hays County, Texas, flyers have been distributed with the title, “Every single aspect of the Covid Agenda is Jewish.” It goes on to list the names of public servants, corporate leaders and front line scientists who are involved in addressing the COVID pandemic. All of them are Jewish and all are accused of being part of a cabal seeking to control the world.

And a small Torah was desecrated when a fraternity house at George Washington University was vandalized.

As hard as it is to believe all of these incidents happened in America in 2021, it is even harder to believe they all happened… in the last two weeks! Sadly, this is far from an exhaustive list of the antisemitic incidents we have seen over the past weeks.

And yet, there has been scant coverage of any specific incident in the media, let alone any attempt outside of Jewish media outlets to take a serious look at the unsettling, and seemingly accelerating, trends over the past few years.

In 2020 alone the FBI reported that antisemitic crimes made up more than half of all religion-based bias crimes and that trend has continued in 2021. This, when Jews make up less than 2.5% of the population.

Where is the outrage?
Where are the marches and demonstrations organized by the myriad social justice and equity groups currently active in the US?
Where are the political speeches decrying antisemitism by those elected officials who are not Jewish but who care about the safety of our community?
And what do we do when the silence not only from the School Board members but from everyone in attendance at that Arizona School Board meeting after a speaker made an overt antisemitic comment is the norm rather than the exception?

As I wrote in a Shabbat message a few months ago,

We need [our elected officials and law enforcement] to do more. And since it does not seem to be happening on its own, it is now incumbent upon us to tell them so. We need them to be speaking out as forcefully on this issue as they have on other issues. And we need them to do more than merely speak out. We deserve to know that our government, on both the local and national level, is taking the steps necessary to safeguard our community.
We need more.
A Tweet here or there simply isn’t enough.

I never imagined that we would need security whenever we gather as a community. But we do.

I never imagined people would feel unsafe wearing a kippah or a Star of David while walking down a street in America. But we do.

And I never imagined that our friends and allies would be relatively silent even as bias attacks on our community become more violent and more frequent. But they are.

So it is left to us to stand tall against the growing tide of hate. It is incumbent on us to call on our leaders to stand with us. And it is incumbent upon us to not only educate ourselves, but to learn what we can do to help address hate in all its forms. It is for that reason that I hope you will join me for ADL’s Never is Now Conference next week from November 7-9. There is no fee to register and the entire program, including an opening session during which experts will discuss the ways social media is amplifying and spreading hate, will take place virtually. You can learn more and sign up here.

As we mark the anniversary of Kristalnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, we are reminded of the terrible price we pay when hate is allowed to metastasize in a society. And while America in 2021 is a far cry from Germany in the 1930s and 40s, the familiar trends we are seeing here at home should be motivation enough for us to stand up and speak out.

Never Is Now won’t stop this unsettling trend. But it has never been more important for us to take the time to learn more about the issues and gain insights into some of the steps we can take as individuals and as a community to address this crisis. I look forward to “seeing you” there.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Daniel Cohen



When I was a child we spent a week at a lodge in Maine each summer. One of the daily activities was Bingo and my mother had an uncanny ability to win at least one card per session. When she would win she would stand up and yell “YUP!”

I will have the honor of being the MC at our upcoming BINGO Night. As MC I want to make it clear that the ONLY way to register your winning card will be to stand up and yell “BINGO.”
“YUP!” Won’t do.
“I win!” Won’t do.
The ONLY way to register your will will be to stand up and yell “BINGO!”

This is not open to debate. The evening’s MC has spoken 🙂

(Oh, and there will be extra credit if you hop on one foot when you say “BINGO” and even more if you then spin around three times.)

In all seriousness, our Bingo Night promises to be a lovely way to get together with the community before the weather gets even colder. Register to attend the evening and bundle up. I look forward to seeing you there.