Standing Again As One

March 17, 2017

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There is a midrash that, when standing at Sinai to receive the Torah, each person received their own personal revelation but responded in one voice, saying, “Na’aseh v’nishma”—“We will do and we will hear.” It is in that exquisite moment that we became one People. Each of us is an individual, but we—and our fate—are inextricably linked, and we are each responsible for one another.

The Jewish community today is under attack, with more than 148 terrorist threats to our institutions in more than 30 different communities. Hate-filled vandalism and desecration of our sacred places are being perpetrated to wreak havoc and instill fear. Whenever the Jewish community is threatened in such a vile and insidious way, na’aseh v’nishma—we must stand together to face the challenges of the day in a decisive and powerful way. We may come from different vantage points, denominations, walks of life—we may differ from each other in a thousand ways—but nothing compares to that which unites us. This has been true throughout our history as a Jewish People.

These words of solidarity were sent to us by the chair of the board of trustees and president of the Jewish Federations of North America and similar words have been sent to us by officials of the Jewish Community Centers Association. We think of these words as we are certainly aware that our families and children have just joyfully celebrated Purim and reenacted the rescue of the Jewish people. Nowhere was the celebration more joyous then at the Konikoff Center for Learning Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, Strelitz Early Childhood Center and the Simon Family JCC, all housed on the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus.

Thankfully, we have not had any of the 148 threats visited upon our community. Our solidarity has not been tested in such a direct way, but if it had, we have no doubt that we would have stood fast. The threats that are intended to disrupt and frighten would, we believe, have been met with unity, anger and defiance. The parents and members regardless of their religion know that the Sandler Family Campus has, throughout its existence, taken all the necessary steps to provide the finest security in a facility of its kind in the region.

This past week UJFT and the Sandler Family Campus brought together representatives from the Jewish institutions in our community with members of local law enforcement, FBI, Homeland Security and Virginia State Police to discuss security, preparedness, and media relations. All law enforcement officials individually and collectively lauded Jason Capossere, Sandler Family Campus director of security, for his vigilance and professionalism, as well as for the high esteem in which he is held by them and their colleagues. There is no question that whether you are attending an event, working out or studying at the school—your safety and security is being seriously considered and determinedly prepared for at the Sandler Family Campus.

We will not stand idly by as the threats grow. Through our Community Relations Council we will work with national organizations like the Anti-Defamation League to pressure our legislative and executive branches of government for the necessary funding and mandate to fully investigate and bring those responsible to justice. In addition, to increase funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps nonprofit groups in religious and ethnic communities targeted by hate crimes.

The UJFT will stay the course and guarantee that when our family, friends, and neighbors participate in the wonderful mosaic that is Jewish life, they will find the meaning, community and security they seek.

Na’aseh v’nishma—standing together as one.

Jay Klebanoff
President, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater

Harry Graber
Executive Vice President, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater

Letter to the Editor