During the height of COVID, when we didn’t really know what it was, how it would affect us, how we should respond, the Jewish Community Center Association held a seminar for Executive Directors titled, “What keeps you up at night?”
Certainly, during those days, it was employee safety, protocols in the buildings, masking policies, financial challenges, and many more.
It was easy to answer the question “What keeps you up at night?”
Flash forward to today when someone asked me “What keeps you up at night?” you needn’t go any further than last night’s headline, “FBI says it has ‘credible information of a broad threat’ to synagogues in New Jersey.” A source reported that the FBI’s alert was made out of an abundance of caution because previous mass killings involved extremists who posted on social media including the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue killings, the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, the May massacre at a Buffalo supermarket and a number of others. There has been online traffic threatening the Jewish communites in New Jersey.
The past five years have seen a dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents (941 in 2015 surging to 2,717 in 2021 (ADL)). This comes at a time when we seen hundreds/thousands of reports of anti-Jewish bias. Whether it be messages beamed across the stadium at the FL-GA game, harassment on campuses, banners hung over the LA Freeway, or the rhetoric of Kanye West.
Anti-Semitism is alive and growing every day and while we read about the most egregious incidents, the vast majority of anti-Semitism is not perpetrated by extremists, it is every day people. Anti-Semitism is out in the open in the United States and not just in extremist websites, the 'dark web,' or other social media outlets. Anti-Semitic tropes are being expressed by athletes, politicians, and every corner of society.
It is not a reach to state that anti-Semitism is being normalized in our country.
Community leaders have recognized this growing threat and earlier this year, authorized the hiring of a Regional Security Director to serve our entire community, and while the hiring process has not gone as smoothly as we had hoped, we are actively seeking that individual who will assist us all in training, ‘hardening’ our facilities, developing protocols, and person and building awareness.
The Budget & Allocations Committee (a broad group of community leadership) allocated a significant sum from the Annual Campaign to 'kick off' this initiative.
At the very same time, Jewish Federations of North America announced LIVESECURE, a $54 million security initiative to ensure the security and resiliency of all Jewish communities. With LIVESECURE grant funding the Savannah Jewish Federation will receive $1 for every $2 raised for security.
That grant will provide up to $300,000 to Savannah if we can raise $600,000 over the next three years…$1 match for every $2 we raise.
That is why we are asking our community to dig a little deeper in this year’s Annual Community Campaign with a “second line” gift.
That is why we are asking our community to consider a 10% additional designated gift for community security needs.
Please consider making a second line donation with your Campaign gift or make an outright gift today!