Many of us have stood up for important causes before. We marched for Soviet Jewry trapped behind the Iron Curtain. We rallied for Israel in times of war and crisis. Each time, our collective voice carried around the globe, in some cases helping change the course of history.
This time, we’re marching for ourselves — the 1.5 million Jews of the New York region, the largest Jewish community in the diaspora, who refuse to cede to hate. And we’re marching as American Jews — from Pittsburgh to Poway — who will never allow anti-Semitism to diminish us.
None of us expected 2019 to end in heartache. But on Monday evening I attended a vigil in Monsey after a rabbi’s home was attacked on Hanukkah. Just three weeks earlier I stood at a funeral in Williamsburg for one of the victims of the Jersey City shooting. Both communities were rattled to the core.
No one asks if another incident will take place, but when and where.
This cannot go on.
Earlier this week UJA joined with our partner the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) to announce the hiring of Mitchell D. Silber as our Community Security Director. You can read the op-ed piece Mitchell wrote in The New York Times about what it will take to protect our community here.
I want to add another note about security — what it is and what it isn’t. Security is about living proudly Jewish lives, filling our synagogues and community centers, and if we choose, wearing clothes and symbols that mark us as Jewish. What it’s not about is making ourselves small or lying low, hoping that this wave of anti-Semitism will dissipate.
That’s why showing up on Sunday truly matters.
We’ll be meeting at Foley Square at 11:00 am, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, and then convening for a rally in Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn. You can find more details here.
And with the escalating tensions in the Middle East, including the events last night, there’s an ever greater need to show our unity.
Years ago, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously described what it was like to march for civil rights alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He said, “I felt my legs were praying.”
Now the time has come for us all to pray with our legs once more. This time, for Jewish New York – for ALL New York – and for our right to live without hate and without fear.
I hope to see you on Sunday.