As we reflect on the tragedy of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, many of us will cope and deal with this in our own personal ways. We have seen the “in our prayers” Facebook posts, and the temporary updated profile photos that have become popular in recent years. Others have chosen to join candle light vigils, or attend a synagogue service that they might otherwise not have participated in. All of these are positive activities. However, there can be no denying that the most effective way to honor those killed is to do everything in our power in making sure that his this kind of tragedy does not happen again. Below I’ve outlined a number of steps that you as a member of your community must take to prevent attacks motivated by anti-Semitism.
1) You must call out anti-Semitism no matter what the source of it is! This means, if you are a democrat or liberal, YOU must be vocal and proactive in calling out anti-Semitism coming from members of that group. If you are a republican or conservative, YOU must be the first to denounce anti-Semitic rhetoric if it is coming from other republicans. We are quick to point out anti-Semitic activities of our political opponents but are very hesitant to do it when it comes from someone who is supposed to be a supporter of our political base. We must stop viewing anti-Semitism as a problem of the “other guys” and look inward at the groups and associations that we ally ourselves with.
2) Be proactive in tackling the security concerns for your family, yourself, and your community. If you are involved with a Jewish institution ask the local police department to evaluate the security measures at your location. They will be able to provide a list of steps that you can imminently take to improve security. Make sure you and members of your family are in the right mind set and able to tackle difficult situations. Get out of the victim mentality which tragically is the default position for many members of the Jewish community. Learn self defense through an organization such as Legion Alpha, which specifically works with Jewish communities. Don’t be cynical about preparedness! Your level of readiness can mean life or death.
3) Talk to other religious institutions in your area. Many churches and mosques have similar security concerns. Learn about what they are doing to be better prepared. Security is absolutely an interfaith issue!
4) Prayer is not enough! Hundreds of monuments around the world to tragedies that befell Jewish communities throughout centuries are proof that prayer and hope and not going to be enough to stop the next anti-Semitic attack. So pray for guidance, peace, and security, but understand that the safety of your family and your community are in YOUR hands.
May we be prepared and ready for an attack that never comes.