Rosh Hashanah 2023, No Hate in Our States

By Myra Clark-Siegel, Regional Director, AJC Westchester/Fairfield

Fully 5783 years of Jewish history are settling into our collective Jewish memory as we usher in Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the start of the Jewish year of 5784. 

As we reflect on the past year, we recognize that, all too often, it has been dangerous to simply be a Jew. 

Over the past several years, antisemitism has returned to the streets in Europe and the U.S. and has simultaneously gained traction on social media at unprecedented levels. 

As we prepare to commemorate the 5th anniversary on October 27 of the horrific attack on the Jewish community at the Tree of Life Congregation, we must ensure that antisemitism or – let’s call it by the accurate term, “Jew-hatred” – is never normalized. 

In the shadow of the Holocaust and despite the call of “Never Again”, Jews have changed their behavior out of fear. 

AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America Report highlights the lived experiences of American Jews today. Based on one of the largest-ever national surveys of American Jews and the U.S. general public, the report demonstrates the disturbing impact that rising hatred of Jews has on America’s Jewish community.

Indeed, over four in ten American Jews feel their status is less secure than last year. That concern increased by 10 percentage points from AJC’s 2021 report, in large part to the rise in antisemitic attacks, crimes, and violence; and how normalized antisemitism and racism have become. 

We know that the hate that affects the Jewish community does not end with the Jews. 

But there is also good news for the Jewish community to celebrate. 

This is not the 1930’s in Europe. 

For the first time in our 4,000+ year history, the Jewish community is strong, vibrant, and organized. We have independence in our homeland in Israel, and equality and strength in the diaspora. 

This summer, the White House released the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. The strategy is the first whole-of-government approach in the United States to counter antisemitism in its multiple and distinct forms The strategy incorporates numerous aspects of AJC’s Call to Action Against Antisemitism, a society-wide guide that shows government, law enforcement, educators, the business community and others how to recognize, respond to, and prevent antisemitism.

The importance of the National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism cannot be overstated. It is an extraordinary effort across 40 government agencies to address hate, and a serious recognition by the federal government that hatred against the Jewish community affects everyone, not just the Jewish community. 

And tiny Israel, in all its diversity and complexity, is a global leader in biotech, agri-tech, alternative energy, water, and more. Israel has become a global technological and entrepreneurial powerhouse, contributing far beyond its size to all corners of the world. By all accounts, it is an extraordinary success story; especially when just 75 years ago, it was simply a dream to return home after thousands of years of exile. Israel’s technological advances protect, save, and enhance life for millions of people around the world of every faith and background. 

As we usher in 5784, there are significant challenges facing the Jewish community. But there is also so much for us to celebrate: the Jewish community is strong, we are proudly Jewish, Jewish life is vibrant, we have partners and allies across government, faiths and backgrounds, and we have a strong and powerful voice. 

Shana Tovah U’Metukah. May we all be inscribed for a good year. 

Myra Clark-Siegel is regional director of AJC (American Jewish Committee). To add your voice in advocating for the Jewish people and Israel and ensuring pluralism for everyone, reach us at: westchester@ajc.org