“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

January 27, 2015

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The past few weeks have seen people rise up to protest the killings in France and all that they portend for civilization. There seemingly was no doubt that people understood that what occurred was reprehensible and a frighteningly fundamental attack on freedom and on humanity.

There is certainty that as a Jewish people we can take comfort in the demonstrations and in the statements of the leaders of France, Germany and England regarding their commitment to fight anti-Semitism in their own countries.

It is clear that for a period of time, as Ira Forman, U.S. State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism has stated, “Anti-Semitism has now become a human rights issue.”

Still, the question remains for how long and under what circumstances? Will cynicism and history dictate that the outright murder of Jews must coincide with the murder of other citizens of Europe by terrorists in order to sustain sympathy and outrage?

We have no choice. We must fight this front as Jews because we know what it all looks like much sooner than others, and we know what will happen to the others. In the words of Elie Weisel, “Because of indifference one actually dies before one actually dies.”

The pages of this edition of the Jewish News are filled with articles addressing the issue of the recent events in France and what we must do to combat the current anti-Semitic climate.

Silence won’t repair the world. Tell us what you can do. Tell us what we can do.

The UJFT Community Relations Council has dedicated a significant portion of its energy to developing resources and activities that one can research and undertake to combat anti-Semitism in its raw form, as well as in its new format, the destruction of Israel. Please go to http://jewishva.org/anti-semitism to see all that is available.

We want our community to tell us what we can do and want us to do. Each individual has the opportunity to not only be well informed, but to take action. We want you to share your ideas and we want you to talk about this with your friends. No idea or suggestion for action is too small for consideration and inspiration. We will take the best ideas to combat anti-Semitism and incorporate them into our programming. We will also publicize them through all of our communication vehicles so that all members of the community can see what they can do.

Please send us an email at SilenceWontRepairTheWorld@ujft.org or post on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/UJFTidewater. Create a post on your own Facebook page or twitter account and use the hashtag, #SilenceWontRepairTheWorld.

Last week was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Many events took place to commemorate the milestone. In these uncertain times, I think that we can take heed from the words of the director of the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, Piotr Cywinski:

“We throw accusations against people who were bystanders, who did nothing at the time, and then how do we look in light of that period?” he asks. “When we look at genocide or tragedy or famine or totalitarian regimes we know how it ends, we know what the outcome is for the victims, because Europe went through that history 70 years ago”

Send us your ideas, talk with your friends and most of all remain vigilant, informed and take action.

Harry Graber
Executive Vice President United Jewish Federation of Tidewater

Letter to the Editor