Less Than Three-In-Ten Americans Know Rosh Hashana Is The Jewish New Year

Friends-

Did you know that 8 in 10 Americans correctly answer questions about Christian traditions? But that less than 3 out of 10 Americans are familiar with some basic facts about other religions—including Judaism? (See the Pew Research Center’s new poll: What Americans Know about Religion).
Given the surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes being reported, those statistics are particularly disturbing. We’d like to know what you think about anti-Semitism: what it is, where it shows up and why there’s so much of it.

Please spend just a few minutes and take our short anti-Semitism survey!

With respectful curiosity,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

How Much Do You Know About Anti-Semitism? Take Our Combating Extremism Survey!

Tanenbaum spends a lot of time thinking about anti-Semitism. And one thing that seems pretty clear, is that people don’t always have a clear understanding of anti-Semitism—what it is, how it works and why it matters.

We know that anti-Semitism is real. And while anti-Semitism is often broadly understood as violent hatred of Jews, or hatred that bears the threat of such violence, sometimes anti-Semitism is quieter and just shows up as microaggressions.

So we want to know what you know and think about anti-Semitism. Please tell us by spending a few minutes taking our Combating Extremism short anti-Semitism survey!

We look forward to hearing what you have to say!

 


 

How you choose to react depends on who you—and who we are.

Friends—
 
I am sad—again. Once more, on behalf of Tanenbaum, I send our sympathy to the families of the deceased and injured in Saturday’s Synagogue shooting in California. 
 
I am also troubled. Because the violence isn’t a surprise. Hating others based on their religion is now normalized.  
 
While the reality is that only a minority of individuals take hate to the extreme, with a new attack every week, it doesn’t feel that way. It seems easier to define and castigate other people based on their differences. It takes more for us to see people, acknowledge them, be respectfully curious, and inclusive.
 
Which direction you choose is up to you—and up to all of us. 
 
That’s why Tanenbaum persists through heartbreak and today’s hate-filled realities. That’s why we work to stop daily acts of bigotry, counter extremism, and support our Peacemakers—women and men who stand up to violence in Sri Lanka, Yemen, Indonesia, and Bosnia—people just like you and me.
 
Choosing to engage with people who are different isn’t always an easy choice. Yet, it is a choice we can make. And that includes those of us who already embrace differences, those who are wary, and even those who perpetrate hate.
 
Don’t believe me? Check out this clip on one former white supremacist taking another to his first meeting with a Jewish person. You’ll see that we can reach across differences. 

With sorrow and fierce determination.

Joyce S. Dubensky

CEO, Tanenbaum

What Anti-Semitism Sounds Like—National Tell a Story Day

Storytelling is an ancient practice used to pass knowledge from one generation to the next. It’s a way we share lessons learned and experiences that inform all of us.

On Saturday, our nation celebrates Tell a Story Day. And in preparation of that event, we’re sharing one man’s story about his first encounter with anti-Semitism. It tells us what it sounded like in his youth, and helps us understand what that felt like—and still feels like today.

Because anti-Semitism isn’t just some abstract idea. It’s real. And it hurts.

A Path Forward: Confronting Hate in America

Ken Parker, prior to leaving the KKK and NSM.

Knowing anti-Semitism is on the rise again. Seeing what happened in Charlottesville, then Pittsburg. Hearing the chants, “Jews will not replace us.” In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, we have to ask the hard question.

Are there some people—bigots and extremists—who are so extreme, they just can’t change?  Our answer, “NO!”

Support for this can be found in Deeyah Kahn’s beautiful, courageous and heart-wrenching Netflix documentary White Right: Meeting the Enemy. In the film, on the Unite the Right rally and the white nationalists who participated, Kahn introduces us to white supremacist leader and Born Again Christian, Ken Parker. At that time, he was active in the Nationalist Socialist Movement (NSM) and a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). 

Ken hands over his Grand Dragon robe to race relations expert Daryl Davis

The film captures what Ken had to say during the 2017 rally

Jews and homosexuals, they should be exterminated, every single one of them.” 

I absolutely despise Jews, so yes I’m a racist.”

“I will never break bread with a Jew! Ever.”

Today it’s different. Ken is now a “former.” He retired from the NSM and the KKK and denounces hate groups. Part of his evolution included a process of reconciliation, and Ken reaching out to the very people who he used to vilify.

Ken Parker with Jewish Holocaust Educator, Tamara Meyer

Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign partnered with Arno Michaelis, a former leader in the skinhead movement and now a peacebuilder, who pushed Ken to meet his first Jew—something he vowed never to do.

Arno introduced Ken to Tamara Meyer, a Jewish Holocaust Educator, and to race relations expert Daryl Davis, and videotaped Ken “break bread with a Jew.”  And now, in partnership with Arno, we are proud to present what happened.

A Path Forward: Confronting Hate in America, affirms that a powerful way to move forward through hate is with empathy, understanding and respect. Take a look. And let us know what you think.

 

Tree of Life – Pittsburgh Synagogue

Friends–

With a heavy heart, Tanenbaum condemns the violence that erupted yesterday morning at the Tree of Life Synagogue near Pittsburgh. At least eleven are dead. Families irrevocably shattered. At least six injured. And a shooter who was reportedly making anti-Semitic comments as this slaughter unfolded.

The scale and gravity of this attack, coming only a week after bomb threats, scares all of us—as Americans and as individuals from a variety of minority religious tradition in our diverse country. This shooting is part of a larger pattern in which people are being targeted for their beliefs—religious and also social and political.

Bigotry and violence have no place in America. The discourse that divides, dehumanizes and demeans civility lays the groundwork for violence. That is why we must all stand shoulder to shoulder with those who exercise their sacred right to pray together, to practice their faith, to peacefully assemble, and to advocate for their beliefs.

Tanenbaum strongly urges all communities and groups to reject the violence of hate and the discourse that breeds it. This includes the anti-Semitism so horrifically visible at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Our hearts are with all those who lost loved ones and were injured. Our commitment is to you and to our national values.

We stand—always—for a world that respects and protects our differences—including our different ways of believing.

 


Image: Vector Illustration

Washington had opinions on Religious Freedom-Combating Extremism

Dear Friends,

To the Founding Fathers, freedom of religion was a cornerstone of American democracy—even before the Bill of Rights was adopted.

Need proof? Check out the correspondence between America’s first president, George Washington, and Moses Seixas, the Hazzan of Newport’s Touro Synagogue of Congregation Jeshuat Israel. While they excluded enslaved African Americas and Native Americans from their vision of religious freedom, their commitment to freedom of conscience and their words contain timeless insights and values—that must to be applied to all.

On this July 4th, we’re sharing a Combating Extremism resource titled:  The President and the Hazzan, along with Questions that prompt discussion.

Join us in defending our founding values and Combating Extremism,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

P.S. We are thrilled to announce that Tanenbaum is a 2018 Nissan Foundation grant recipient in support of our Combating Extremism campaign! Read our press release here.


Image Credit: Touro Synagogue. Wikipedia

Tanenbaum Condemns ‘Punish a Muslim Day’

Dear Friends,

Did you know that anonymous hate-mongers are urging people to “celebrate” tomorrow, April 3rd, as “Punish a Muslim Day”? And that they’ve created a game to encourage and reward acts of violence? I’m horrified. We should all be. And that’s why Tanenbaum is issuing a statement condemning this act of hate.

We should also be equally horrified to hear about the French Jew, Mireille Knoll—an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor stabbed 11 times in her apartment just over a week ago before it was set on fire.

These are just two terrifying examples of what hate looks like in 2018. Sadly, they are part of a larger trend. Religiously motivated hate crimes have been on the rise over the past couple of years—worldwide.

It’s time for elected officials and everyday citizens alike to responsibly stop violence and use their influence to make sure it happens.

With a heavy heart,

Joyce

P.S. Click here for our statement condemning “Punish a Muslim Day”.

P.S.S. Click here for more information on Mireille Knoll’s murder.

P.S.S.S. Click here for information on hate crimes in the U.S.

Remembering Rev. Dr. Billy Graham

Thank you Rev. Dr. Billy Graham for your guidance and dedication.

Tanenbaum mourns the loss of our Advisory Board member. Rest in peace.

In remembrance, we share your teachings…

  • When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.
  • Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.
  • God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.
  • Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.
  • Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing and patience and being persistent.
  • Suppose you could gain everything in the whole world, and lost your soul. Would it be worth it?
  • There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men.
  • Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength.
  • Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.
  • Take one day at a time. Today, after all, is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

*Update*
Thursday, February, 22, 2018

We received several emails questioning the statement above due to the National Archive’s 2002 revelation about some comments Rev. Graham made about Jews to President Nixon in 1972. Below is our response to expressed concerns:

Dear Friends:

We abhor the comments Rev. Graham made in the Nixon tape. They clearly complicate his legacy. But that tape does not capture the entirety of his story with the Jewish people and Judaism.

Reverend Billy Graham was also a close ally of our namesake Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum. That’s because of the largely untold story of his many acts of friendship toward Jewish people around the world. Whether his comments on the tape were as intolerant as they sound, an act of weakness in the face of the President’s instigation, or something else, one of the central tenets of the Evangelical Christianity, which Rev. Graham preached and practiced, is this: no matter how many times a person might fall, he can be redeemed. And Rev. Billy Graham, we believe, creditably redeemed himself in his support of Jews.

Whenever he undertook a Crusade to the Soviet Union or its satellites, he contacted Rabbi Tanenbaum to ask what he could do to help the Jews in that country.  He helped free Soviet Jews. He sent each of his children to live on a kibbutz in Israel as part of their upbringing.  He agreed to refrain from trying to convert Jews during his Evangelical campaigns.  He also proclaimed that anti-Semitism was not part of his teachings–reaching over 215 million people in over 185 countries.  And he literally saved Israel during the Yom Kippur war of 1973 by interceding on Israel’s behalf with President Nixon.

We also remember how he willingly joined with the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding to promote respect among all people and to recognize the divine in each.

There is no justification for Rev. Graham’s statements to President Nixon. But I also remember a man who was a friend to many of our efforts for justice.

With gratitude that you took the time to share,
Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

P.S. To read more about Rev. Graham’s relationship with Jews and Jewish leaders, as well as the points of view of many on this issue: http://www.sltrib.com/religion/2018/02/21/billy-graham-leaves-a-positive-interfaith-legacy-with-a-few-blemishes

Never Again – It’s Time We Meant It

January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau from the Nazis 73 years ago. And this year’s theme is “The power of words.”

So, isn’t it time to ask:

How powerful would it be, if we really meant the words, “Never Again”?

View our resource to see how the horrors of the past are repeating today. Together, let’s vow to make Never Again real — we can’t afford not to.