Makeshift memorial near Chabad of Poway
Makeshift memorial near Chabad of PowayReuters

Shalom Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein, Chabad of Poway

We continue to pray for a speedy and full recovery for you and the others who were wounded in the Poway Synagogue shooting. As I followed your speeches from the hospital, as well as in the presence of the honorable President Trump, I was moved to hear you call him 'a big mensch', and see a warm smile spread across his face at the compliment. You are presently in the spotlight, and your courageous and wise words are taken to heart. Perhaps a moment of silence will even be reinstated into the public schools.

There is a crucial point that may have been overlooked in all the significant statements you made. Despite having a good man and a great friend of Israel presently in the White House, the anti-Semitism in America is escalating. The neo-Nazis are unafraid of publicly proclaiming their skewed allegiance. Whether from the far left or the far right, hatred and violence is mounting rapidly in major Jewish areas as Brooklyn as well as in quiet towns and cities like Poway. It seems clear that this generation is exposed to more bigotry and hate on social-media than any previous generation. Combine that with the politically accepted anti-Semitism coming from America's Democratic party with its new outspoken young radical thinkers: Ilhan, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, to name just a few. These are pushing the older slower moving Democrats to the side as their newsworthy momentum thrusts forward their anti-Israel, read anti-Jewish, agendas.

Recently the United Nation's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, issued a blunt warning on Holocaust Remembrance Day, comparing the current state of anti-Semitism in Europe to the era during which the Nazis rose to power. “The signs of the thirties are resurfacing. You all are witnessing every day the anti-Semitism which is rising,” Dieng stated at the Second Global Summit on Religion, Peace and Security in Geneva. America is not far behind.

Israel must be on the table and should be on the minds of American Jews. Aliyah must be spoken of openly as a viable option. Jews in the diaspora should not flee in fear, but they should be wisely oriented to the idea, and be prepared. They should plan visits to Israel with the whole family to become acquainted with various areas of the country. Whoever is able should already buy a home in Israel, consider educational and employment options, start transferring some of their savings or investment accounts to Israeli institutions. If the Israel element is omitted from the conversation, lives will sadly be endangered. Too many times in history, we have been caught taking just a bit too much advantage of a benevolent diaspora way-station. Especially now, in the very generation in which Hashem is bringing us back en masse after 2000 years, showing us that His prophets' words were not meant only for learning and study, but are actually coming true in front of our eyes. It's certainly an appropriate time to learn the lesson, and this time, not the hard way. We will not be able to plead ignorance, as those in Germany did. Those who are responsible for shaping opinions must neither pretend nor say, "It won't happen here." We pray it won't, but we must urge those will listen to be prepared. And right now Rabbi Goldstein, your words are in the limelight.

Although you may not have wanted to say this on the White House lawn, in your own inimitable way, you have an obligation to present Israel as a viable option for the future of American Jewry.


Sarah Feld, Israel

Sarah Feld is an activist living in Israel