Editorial: Tree of Life to Poway, anti-Jewish hate crimes rising
It must be a terrifying time to be Jewish.
When the places where you go to feel your faith most fully are the places where you are targeted with guns loaded with bullets and gunmen loaded with hatred, it must feel like being a deer in an open field. No trees for cover. No place of refuge. Just the uncertainty of when or where the next attack will start.
The nation — and the world — rallied around Pittsburgh when the Tree of Life synagogue was targeted. When 11 people were cut down at prayer. It was the worst single attack on the Jewish people in American history. And surely we would not let this happen again.
But it did.
The death toll was lower in Poway, Calif., where just one woman, Lori Kaye, 60, died and three others, including an 8-year-old girl and the rabbi, were injured. The Chabad of Poway was filled with worshippers celebrating the end of Passover, remembering the Biblical story of the Hebrews being spared by the Angel of Death.
It is sickening that such evil would pollute that ceremony.
It is heart-wrenching that it happened six months to the day after the slaughter at the Tree of Life.
But is it inevitable? Have we reached a point where we shrug it off with a stoic, fatalistic “These things happen.”
These things do not have to happen.
The tumor that brings death to Jewish people over and over throughout history is a special kind of hatred that paints people who worship the same god in a different way as not just “other” but “less than.”
It is that tumor that must be excised because the outbreaks are becoming so regular. The Anti- Defamation League has been noting “drastic increases” in anti-Semitism in the United States and internationally.
The FBI hate crime statistics for 2017 were released two weeks after the Tree of Life shooting. They detailed 1,564 religiously motivated hate crimes, with 60% of them against Jewish targets.
Reports say Kaye died placing herself between her rabbi and John Earnest, 19, who is charged in the attack.
We should all place ourselves in front of statements of division by declaring anti-Semitism untenable and providing the shelter that our Jewish neighbors need in the open field of hatred.
It may be a scary time to be Jewish, but it is also an awful time to know that you could have helped and didn’t.