This Joke Was Not Funny At All

Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El - Photo found on social media.
Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El - (photo from social media, unknown credit)

April Fools’ Day is a day for jokes, pranks, and good laughs. But this year’s joke turned into a hurting statement we can’t ignore.

Growing up in Israel, hate wasn’t a word I really got. Don’t get me wrong, politics, conflicts, love, hate and radicals exist everywhere. Still, in my bubble, I never felt hatred against me, us, Israelis or Jews. 

Even during my army service- there are combats, missions, fights, enemies and casualties. But hate? Like pure hate? Didn’t really see it this way. Serving in the army was to protect and defend our country and people. The motive was never hate. 

In 2020, I moved here with my family to work in the US. “The Land of the Free, home of the brave.” I told my children we were coming to a welcoming country, a place they would fit in, a nation that made its roots in a great melting pot of all diversities and cultures, where dreams come true. A great place where freedom and possibilities are endless. Did I over-exaggerate? That’s what the American Dream is supposed to be about, isn’t it? 

This April Fool’s made it clear to me that the “2024 American dream” has changed and is not funny at all. A swastika was sprayed on a synagogue in our backyard in the dead of night. In recent months, hate and antisemitic statements have been on the rise. And this swastika is not the first one I’ve seen or the last one that will be sprayed. But the hate, the ugly hate, hiding in the shadows, coming at night and spreading seeds of hate in our backyards, hit me deeply. And the thing is that it’s not just about hate against Jews or one community or synagogue. It’s this feeling that’s “its” here, spreading, targeting anyone who’s seen as ‘other.’ 

This is America?
Feels more like Europe in 1933 than the land of the free.

Note: This post is a response to the antisemitic graffiti found at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El on the Main Line, as reported by NBC.

About the Author
CEO of American Friends of Atid, a U.S.-based non-profit supporting the Atid education network in Israel, renowned for fostering remarkable achievements in children from diverse backgrounds. Over 17 years of experience working in philanthropic nonprofit marketing, communications, and public relations.
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