Reform Jewish Leader Responds to Uptick in Antisemitic Incidents

Washington, DC, February 1, 2022 – In response to a recent spate of antisemitic incidents in North America, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and wider Reform movement:

In the last several weeks, several incidents of antisemitism nationwide have been perpetrated that are of deep concern to us as Jews and should be of equal concern to all people of good will.

The stately edifice of Union Station in Washington, DC, a main entry point to the nation’s capital, was defaced with swastikas. Neo-Nazis gathered in Orlando, Florida and proudly displayed the symbols and gestures of the Third Reich. A Tennessee school board banned author Art Spiegelman’s groundbreaking Holocaust allegory “Maus,” which has powerfully taught several generations of students about the horrors of the Shoah and sensitized them to the dangers of dehumanization. A member of Congress tweeted a discredited quote from “Voltaire” that is well-known to be, in fact, the words of a white supremacist neo-Nazi. Flyers blaming Jews for COVID were widely circulated in multiple states. A COVID-related protest in Ottawa included open and painful displays of Nazi symbols. And of course, we continue to feel the pain of the hostage taking at our Colleyville, TX Congregation Beth Israel, motivated by pernicious antisemitic tropes about Jewish power.

Each of these incidents, and others sadly too numerous to name, make clear that antisemitism is being fomented across the United States. At this dangerous moment, it is not enough to be passively opposed to such views and actions. All people of goodwill must speak forcefully and consistently in opposition to antisemitism and those who spread it.

History has demonstrated repeatedly the horrors that can occur when good people remain silent. We at the RAC and across the Reform Jewish Movement advocate tirelessly in solidarity with all vulnerable groups who experience oppression and are targeted by hate.  Antisemitism cannot be fought by Jews alone; the security of all people is in our solidarity and shared commitment to eradicating hatred wherever it is found.