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Educate, Act and Engage in the Fight Against Antisemitism

09/22/2021 08:13:39 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg


No doubt many of us have heard about the recent acts of antisemitism that took place at Pope High School and Lassiter High School, both schools in Cobb County, and the disappointing response from the administration and the Cobb County School Board. Clergy colleagues in Marietta convened almost immediately, with Rabbi Larry Sernovitz (Temple Kol Emeth) meeting at length with the principal of Pope High School. Though the meeting was, by Rabbi Sernovitz’s accounts, rather fruitful, the correspondence from the schools and the School Board condemned acts of hate and failed to mention the offending action, the symbols and words written on the walls of the bathroom, and failed to decry these acts as acts of antisemitism.

Let us be clear and unequivocal: this is wrong. The acts of antisemitism are wrong. The response from the schools is wrong. The tepid response from the Cobb County School Board is wrong.

So the question is asked: what can we do? We can do three things: we can educate, we can act, and we can engage in more grand efforts to confront antisemitism. Here is how.

If you have not already done so, please consider viewing here our colleague from Temple Emanuel Rabbi Spike Anderson’s powerful sermon from Yom Kippur or download a copy here to read on your own. You can also hear Senator Jon Osoff’s comments from Temple Emanuel here and Dov Wilker, Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee, Atlanta, offered compelling insights here (scroll to 19:41).

A petition is circulating at present, calling on the Cobb County School Board to condemn antisemitism; you can sign that petition here. As well, tonight, September 23, many in our community will be showing up at the Cobb County School Board meeting to speak with one voice aimed at confronting antisemitism. Those who desire to attend may consider wearing blue and white; the meeting starts at 7:00 pm (514 Glover Street, Marietta).

Get Involved
In addition to the phenomenal efforts of both the ADL and the AJC, Temple Sinai is also formulating our long-term response to antisemitism. Under the direction of Bennet Alsher, Melanie Nelkin, and LaWana Streger, we are gathering thoughts, stories, and opinions from Sinai members as we engage more regularly in efforts to respond to and disrupt antisemitism. We want to hear from you – if you would feel comfortable answering a few questions with one of our team members, please contact me here and one of our task force volunteers will be in touch to schedule a time to speak over zoom or over the phone. We want to hear from all in our community, from our most senior members to our young people.

Further, if available, on Sunday, October 3, Temple Sinai is hosting Jonathan Tobin to hear his thoughts on the rise of antisemitism and what we can do about it. This conversation, moderated by Rabbi Natan Trief, should be rather compelling indeed. Register Here

Finally, a message to our Cobb County students: we know that some of you are presently in a most uncomfortable position, serving for perhaps the first time in your life as symbolic exemplars of your religious faith and heritage. We know that you have got this. We stand with you and we are ALL here should you want to talk or process, scream or cry. You make us proud today and every today.

With wishes for a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Wed, December 1 2021 27 Kislev 5782