Howie Beigelman
Lobbyist & Public Policy Entrepreneur

Charlottesville, a Jewish View

“History repeats itself. That’s one of the things that’s wrong with history.”

This famous, if possibly apocryphal, attribution to Clarence Darrow is for Jews, a real life groundhog day.

The events this past week in Charlottesville, are jarring. They did not happen way back when. They didn’t happen somewhere else, across the globe. They happened yesterday, right here.

There was a third-world level of breakdown in law and order. And, even more disturbing the police department, in addition to its operational failings, made a strategic decision to deny police protection to a synagogue.

What are we to make of this?

In the words of Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former British Chief Rabbi, no student of Jewish history is an optimist. But what Jews brought the world was hope.

Optimism is passive, and it’s irrational. Hope, says the Chief, is active, based on the work, the partnerships, the efforts we make.

Some of those efforts need to start. Some must be renewed. And some are ongoing.

Those bear remembering, because they work.

The calls and emails we received post Charlottesville are gratifying. We are told that our elected leaders stand with us. We are told our law enforcement are true partners who would “never” let that happen here.

There’s more work to do, yes. There’s more partnerships to forge, and policies to change.

And, eyes wide open to what did happen, we can take a moment to be grateful that we put our past efforts into relationships that are very different from those on the ground not too far away.

About the Author
Howie Beigelman is Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities, the statewide government advocacy, public affairs, and community relations voice of Ohio's eight Jewish Federations and their 150 nonprofit agencies, leading lobbying efforts in Columbus & issues advocacy in Washington.