The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
It is, unfortunately, not news to many of us that anti-Semitism continues to threaten the safety and well-being of Jews all over the world. A recent survey conducted by the ADL over 2014 and 2015 found that 26% of the world’s population still hold anti-Semitic attitudes.
Over the past couple of years, attacks on a Kosher supermarket in Paris, a synagogue in Copenhagen, a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City and many more Jewish spaces leave us fearing and hoping for the safety of our people. These moments of tragedy are sometimes punctuated by moments of promise, such as Paris’ mayor joining over 300 municipal leaders in the American Jewish Committee’s Mayors Against Anti-Semitism initiative or the finding that anti-Semitic attitudes declined by as much as 20% in some western European countries in 2015 from 2014.
The enduring challenge of anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, leaves us with questions about what the future holds and how we can respond. Some of us may have experienced anti-Semitism ourselves, while for others this problem may feel more distant. Regardless, as the Talmud reminds us, “Kol Yisrael arevim ze bazeh” – all of Israel are responsible for one another. We have an obligation to learn about the struggles facing Jews both near and far and to work to alleviate them.
At the URJ Biennial from November 4-8 in Orlando, Florida, we will have the opportunity to discuss these pressing issues. From 2:15 to 3:30 PM on Friday, November 6 in Grand 2, representatives of Reform Jewish communities in Europe will lead a workshop called “Responding to Anti-Semitism in Eastern and Western Europe.” Join Rabbi Grisha Abramovich of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism in the Republic of Belarus, Sonja Guetner of Cologne International School, Europe’s first fully accredited inter-religious school and Leo Baeck College Principal Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris as they share their first hand experiences with European anti-Semitism. Together, they will talk about how their communities are dealing with this frustrating reality.