This week we marked one month since the October 7 massacre. We also mark the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a series of Nazi pogroms consisting of vandalism, arson, violence and the murder of Jews. It is unfathomable that less than a century later, the Jewish people are yet again confronted with an enemy that seeks our annihilation.
An important poll, conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, was released yesterday measuring the sentiments of American Jews and Americans since Hamas invaded Israel on October 7.
- The poll shows a large majority of American Jews support Israel in its fight against terror, despite those calling for a ceasefire or placing blame for the conflict on Israel.
- Regarding U.S. military aid to Israel, 87% of Jews said it is important. Among U.S. adults overall, 60% say it is important and 40% say it is not.
- 75% of American Jews have concerns that the war will cause issues in terms of security and safety in their communities. Nearly three in 10 said they knew of “physical acts of violence or acts of hate” against Jews in their communities. (Please note we take security very seriously in our community and work closely with law enforcement. To date, we have not seen any physical acts of violence.)
- 72% of Jews said antisemitism in their local communities has increased over the past few weeks. Zero percent believe it has decreased. 86% say there is more antisemitism than there was five years ago and most Jews believe antisemitism will continue to increase.
- 72% of Jewish respondents have felt less secure over the past month and worry about their personal safety.
- Jews and Americans overall feel there is significant prejudice in the United States against Jews. 92% of Jews said there is prejudice while 78% of Americans overall said Jews face discrimination.
- Approximately 75% of Jews said Muslims and Arabs face discrimination in America, while 66% of Jews said Palestinians face discrimination. The majority of Americans overall also said those groups face discrimination.
It will be interesting to see what these polls show going forward.
I have written before about my experience in December 1987 at the march for Soviet Jewry in Washington, DC. It was my “aha” moment in life that inspired my becoming a professional in the Jewish community.
Next Tuesday, November 14 at 10:00 a.m. PT may be a similar moment for many. Tens of thousands of Jews from across the country – including a group from the Portland area -- will stand together on the National Mall in Washington, DC to show our support for Israel at this critical time. The “March for Israel” is focused on supporting Israel, standing up against antisemitism, and bringing the hostages home.
If you are going to the march in DC, please reply to this email.
The rally will also be made available via livestream and we will send that link once we have it (perhaps not until Tuesday morning).
The rally is scheduled when Congress will be in session and considering emergency supplemental aid to Israel. President Joe Biden has asked Congress for $14 billion in emergency assistance for Israel, including $10 billion in defense assistance, as part of an aid package that would also include funding for Ukraine. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked the bill passed by the Republican-controlled House to separate aid to Israel from aid to Ukraine as it would have also entailed an equal cut in funding to the IRS. The Senate is crafting its own supplemental aid bill.
The Jewish community is coming together so the administration and members of Congress see the broad, deep support across all of American society. Many of our elected officials are hearing from some contrary voices, including pro-Hamas and anti-Zionist voices in their home communities. As you can see from the poll above and others, these voices are in the minority of American society, but they do receive press coverage. The organized Jewish community wants to demonstrate its love for Israel with a large physical presence.
Knowing that not everyone can attend the march in DC, the most important thing you can do is CALL your elected officials in Congress each and every day. Here is a full list from both Oregon and Washington. They are receiving far more calls from those opposing Israel than in support. Let our elected officials hear from you – urge them to be steadfast in their support for Israel in its war with Hamas, push for the release of the hostages, and fight antisemitism -- again and again.
In addition, as one community member said to me, every member of our Jewish community should connect with their university alma mater and encourage their administration to call out the virulent antisemitism we are seeing on campuses on a daily basis.
These are not easy times.
Here is a local initiative that is very special and important. You are invited to gather in peaceful solidarity and raise awareness of the plight of the 240 people still being held hostage by Hamas since October 7.
Today, from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market (12375 SW 5th Street, Beaverton) will be the “5th Shabbat Without Loved Ones.”
This "empty Shabbat table” installation is organized by our local Israeli community. It is one of a series of Friday night dinner tables symbolically set for the hostages in cities across the United States, Israel, and around the world. The public is encouraged to attend during the afternoon. In addition to seeing the installation, there will be a brief program starting at 3:00 p.m. Security will be present.
To close, a church in Philadelphia has a sign that says
The world is asking Israel to show mercy. When will the world ask – demand – the same from Hamas?
Shabbat shalom and please make those phone calls.