I sat in my synagogue with my family, my community and faith surrounding me the Friday night before the shooting in Pittsburgh. I was encircled by people who are like me. I was there showing my children the traditions of our faith and how important and beautiful our Jewish community in Charleston is.
As a Jewish woman, my worst fears were displayed all over television on Saturday morning when I heard about the shooting in Pittsburgh. As a Southerner, I think about how welcoming my own community and faith-based communities across the country are when a new person arrives at the doorsteps of our houses of worship. As a mother, I was so hopeful that my children wouldn’t have to experience the anti-Semitic comments and discrimination I have experienced because I am a Jew. On that day my hope for humanity was crushed!
The people of Charleston felt this kind of tragedy in our own city, with our own people and today, just like 3 ½ years ago, we need more than just your thoughts and prayers.
On Sunday I got up, still in shock, and I took my kids to Sunday School where they learn about Jewish pride. Knowing most of them are “the only one” in their class or in their school, this is something that is important for them to feel. Being “the only one” isn’t easy for any kid, but in America, our society is filled with different races, religions, socioeconomic classes, and everything in between. This is what makes each of us unique and each of us so very special.
Then I came home and thought about the number of active shooter trainings I’ve been through because of the 10+ years I worked in the Jewish community. I thought about all the security measures that are taken at our homes, schools, and synagogues to prevent situations just like this one. And then I laid on my bathroom floor and wept for the woman who survived the depths of hell during the Holocaust only to be brutally murdered nearly 50 years later because of one thing. She was Jewish.
It’s a few days later as I write this and handfuls of people have reached out and sent their condolences and prayers to my family. They’ve said they can’t imagine the sadness that our community is feeling. Thank you, but we need to do more. It is times like this where it is not just my Jewish community that I lean on, but it is those who foster acceptance and respect for the lives of all people whose friendships I cherish the most.
The terror and discrimination must stop. Acceptance is something we have to teach the next generation, so they don’t grow up and experience these same tragedies.
I ask this from one mother to another.
Please to talk to your children and explain that everyone brings something unique to the table. From religion to race, to socioeconomic class and everything in between, this is what makes us special and those differences are something to be respected, tolerated, and cherished. Encourage your children to stand up for others when they see someone being made fun of for their differences. Be the parent whose example they can follow and teach them how to care for others no matter who they are. Lastly, please keep my community in your thoughts and prayers, but more importantly, be the person who doesn’t just stand idly by while others are being persecuted for just being themselves. This has happened to my people before. This has happened in our city before. This could happen again, but don’t let it. Know that humanity deserves better! My people are no different than yours and my children deserve to feel just as safe as yours do. Stand up for others! Different isn’t wrong, different is simply different.