Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
I have been debating this question a lot over the past month. The Jewish Community Center where my daughter attends dance class and where I (sometimes) work out has received two bomb threats. The JCC where I worked for almost eight years has received several more. I feel like it is only a matter of time until my daughters Jewish Day School gets a call and she and her friends are evacuated from the building.
I don’t want to live like this. I have never lived like this before. Antisemitism seemed like a concept for a bye gone generation, not something that was growing and real before my very eyes. I feel like I now need to confront it in a new way. But I don’t have many answers, only questions.
Do I speak with my daughter about these bomb threats?
Do I prepare her for the day her school gets a call?
Do I want her to understand that she is a minority in this country?
Do I need to prepare something to protect my family from possible attack? If so, what do I need?
Where would we go if we need to flee?
When would we know that the time has come to flee?
How can I stand up for others when I am worried for my own safety?
These questions swirl around and around in my head. People around me have started whispering them to each other as well. No one wants to freak out, yet we do not want to be naïve either. We all know what happened to those who did not leave Germany in the late 1930s. Is this the same situation or not?
I want to be able to see into the future and know what to so, to know how to lead at this moment in time. Yet, I do not have a crystal ball before me.
I know people who are speaking with their children, but I can’t do it just yet. I do not want to make her afraid. I do not want the joy and cheer to fall away from her face. If, and I really hope that is an IF the time comes where we really must be afraid, then I will speak with her.
In the meantime, I am carefully choosing when to speak out. I am aware that every time I chose to join a march, sign a petition, or post a politically oriented Facebook post, I may be watched. So, I do not do these things rashly. I consider. I choose the issues I most care about.
I wait and I observe. I read the headlines. The blog posts of people whose opinions I respect. I judge the tenor of both those I agree and disagree with. I cannot dismiss anything out of hand. Nor can I believe everything I read.
I do not know how scared I should be on a day to day basis. I do know that I am more scared than I was a year ago, and I hope and pray that this feeling subsides.