The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews announced an effort to aggressively respond to the astonishing rise in violent attacks against synagogues and the worldwide Jewish community.
The decision comes in the aftermath of two deadly attacks in the past six months by white supremacists against synagogues in the United States, and countless other examples of anti-Semitic hate throughout the world.
"We want to make sure that every synagogue in the world is prepared to protect themselves against attacks like the ones we've seen recently," said Yael Eckstein, president of The Fellowship. "We have been able to rely on our Christian friends again and again to step up and provide emergency assistance to Jews in need, including Holocaust survivors. Now we are asking them to help us in this effort to protect our communities from extremists who want to shatter our peace with their acts of terror."
In years past, The Fellowship has funded security efforts throughout Europe, including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Georgia and Ukraine. They have also invested in security measures in India, Russia, Thailand, Nepal, Turkey and Argentina. They're looking to vastly expand their existing programs in these countries and others. In 2019, they will begin additional security initiatives in Mexico.
The Fellowship decided to increase its efforts to secure synagogues hours after the attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue on Passover last weekend, and the alarming appearance of a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon in the international edition of The New York Times.
After both events, Yael Eckstein issued the following statement on Sunday:
The Jewish community emerged from Passover to learn a new chapter had opened in the modern resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world. The international edition of The New York Times, during Passover no less, had published a cartoon so blatantly anti-Semitic that CNN anchor Jake Tapper tweeted, "it just as well could have run in a Neo-Nazi or ISIS publication." To make matters worse, the newspaper did not initially apologize and instead issued a statement calling it an "error of judgment" without any explanation as to how it happened and how it is being addressed. A paper as reputable as The New York Times can offer no reasonable excuse for a mistake so egregious.
Then, the peace of a Passover service was shattered in Poway, California, when a 19-year-old white supremacist attacked a synagogue, murdering one woman and injuring several others, including the rabbi. While I don't mean to infer The New York Times' cartoon had anything to do with the Poway attack, I find the events reflective of what's actually going on in our time. The disease of anti-Semitism has once again infiltrated our institutions—like The New York Times, the European Union, and the U.S. Congress—as it continues to gain more ground among violent right-wing and left- wing extremists. This is a very, very dangerous phenomenon.
This week is Yom HaShoah, the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I'm sorry to say that when I look at my children, I am concerned for their future. For the first time in my lifetime, I believe we are on a path that could lead to similar horrors. We must change course—the Jewish community, and our Christian friends, must be more vigilant, standing together and not giving an inch to hate, whether it comes from political extremists, or the media or from academics in their "ivory towers." I'm afraid things are probably worse than they even seem."
To donate to The Fellowship's efforts to protect the Jewish community around the world, please visit: SafeSynagogues.com.
Listen to the podcast to hear commentator Dr. Michael Brown's response to the violence.
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