A Letter To Families: How to talk about Antisemitism

From Rabbi Josh Rose:

Shalom

At this time of year we look forward to Rosh HaShanah and all of the personal and communal renewal it promises.  While surely the Jewish people have much to be thankful for, still we have to be honest about some ugly events in our nation in recent months.

Our grandparents would be unsurprised at the upsurge of anti-Semitism we have seen in our country recently.  But they no doubt would share our dismay that America’s unique gift  for tolerance and cooperation has temporarily been less evident.

We didn’t think that young Jewish children in 21st century America would have to watch  on the news Nazis marching in torch lit processions chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Nor did we think we would see bigots and Klan leaders crawling out of their fetid holes to proudly  spread their vile hate and cheer the direction of the country.  As a Dad I have watched the news and these ugly images with great discouragement. This is not the nation that I know.

But as a Jew I actually react with great pride and hope. Pride because we have triumphed through times infinitely darker than the current moment and through it all our people’s genius propels us to stand with strength and endurance. And hope because I know that our faith and inherent optimism along with  the goodness at the core of America will bring us through this passing episode once again with heads held high.

Dorice and I wanted to send you resources in dealing with anti-Semitism.  Each of us has to make judgements as parents how to approach these conversations. The youngest of our children may be unaware. But it is likely that kids even as young as first grade might have heard about some of what has gone on over the last months.  As a general recommendation it is a good idea to start by speaking with teachers and school officials to find out how they are talking to kids about these issues.

We hope that the following information is helpful to you as you either initiate conversations with your kids or find yourself responding to their questions.  Dorice offers some reflections below and then you will find several links to useful resources on the topic.   And of course the two of us are always available to speak with you and your children.

Our kids need to have a strong sense of pride in their Jewish identity and the tools to think through what they hear. We hope these  resources are useful in fostering good conversations. Adonai oz l’amo yiten.  May God grant strength to Gods people, may god bless God’s  people  with peace.

Rabbi Rose
https://pjlibrary.org/beyond-books/pjblog/february-2017/how-to-talk-to-children-about-anti-semitism
https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/education-outreach/empowering-young-people-in-the-aftermath.pdf
https://www.ushmm.org/confront-antisemitism/teaching-about-antisemitism

From Dorice Horenstein, Education Director

Dorice’s thoughts 

I have been thinking a lot about the situation our nation is facing and the climate of anti semitism, racism that is being unfortunately manifested lately.

There are times in my life where I feel unsafe.  A few months ago I posted a message on my blog about a book I was reading at the time–a young adult who felt ashamed of his past, of his Sephardic origins.  Even though growing up in Israel and serving in the Israeli military gave me the strength of character, I recall a long long time ago being embarrassed about my Persian ethnicity, about the fact that my parents are not the educated parents many of my classmate had.There are times, in particular gatherings and interactions, where I still feel uncomfortable for being an Israeli, dark-skinned Sephardic woman. But in time, I not only learned to not look at this in shame, but rather to feel pride to who I am and where I come from. It also gave me the opportunity to be aware of others in America who are experiencing feeling different and unequal to others.

I have learned in my life the strength to call out when I see injustices. To name racism, and not shame people of who they are. That means that we do hold others to be accountable to what they say, and what they do. With the Month of Elul upon us, I invite each of you to reflect of words of our profit Micha of what god desires of us-

“He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord demands of you; but to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your God.”

הִגִּ֥יד לְךָ֛ אָדָ֖ם מַה־טּ֑וֹב וּמָה־יְהֹוָ֞ה דּוֹרֵ֣שׁ מִמְּךָ֗ כִּ֣י אִם־עֲשׂ֚וֹת מִשְׁפָּט֙ וְאַ֣הֲבַת חֶ֔סֶד וְהַצְנֵ֥עַ לֶ֖כֶת עִם־אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ:

Micha 6:8

I want to share with you Brene Brown recent Facebook live where she addresses the recent events in Charlottesville and talked about the 3P’s: Privilege, Perspective and Power. It is appropriate for Middle school and above.

In addition, due to the fact that some of these events took place this summer, I have attached a few more links to help families talk about anti semitism and racism in a safe environment, as we may not have the time in our short and full planned Sundays.  I hope that you will take a look at these several approaches and ideas and know that we are here to help support your family and lead a conversation.

Please call/text/email us with any question.

https://www.facebook.com/brenebrown/

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/books/review/children-violence-racism-charlottesville.html?_r=0&referer=http://m.facebook.com

https://www.jewishlearningmatters.com/BD-CharlottesvilleCurriculum-3124.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

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