As we prepare for Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, there is darkness around us, the darkness of antisemitism.
Many of us grew up in this country when antisemitism was waning. Over the last 50 years, Jews lived in relative security in this country. No longer were we banned from social organizations, no longer was there overt, repeated incidents. Not to say that it wasn’t there, but it certainly was nothing like what we’ve seen over the past five years…and it is growing.
This week we saw response to the serious rise in antisemitism when the Federation hosted Secure Community Network’s Stuart Frisch for a series of training sessions titled, Countering Active Threat Training and BeAware: An Introduction to Situational Awareness at the JEA. Well attended, there were folks from all the synagogues, Day School, Shalom School, as well as other schools and organizations in the community.
Some of the comments received include:
- I though he was an incredibly compelling. He was both stark and emphatic while maintaining a gentle self-awareness. Very, very good;
- Thank you for bringing Stuart Frisch in for the two trainings. I had attended one of the trainings online previously, but it was even more impactful in person. It’s also humbling to see a training for a second time and realize how much I forgot. Today’s training was very good and very thought provoking (and hopefully action provoking too!!);
- Y’all gave me tools that I will use in my every day life. I feel so empowered to know that my safety and the safety of those around me depends on how I react and respond;
- I have a special kind of knowledge to add to my world and will certainly urge others to do the same.
The same themes came out of these comments and the many others we received:
Impactful, Prepared, Empowered.
Who could have imagined that our community (and communities throughout the country) would need to commit to these (and others) types of trainings, but putting our heads in the sand is not an option. As Stuart Frisch asked one of the audiences, “How many of you knew the names of Newtown, CT, Poway, CA, or Colleyville, TX before the incidents?” What we once thought was a “big city problem” is now a national epidemic and the Savannah Jewish Federation has taken this to heart with the recruitment of a Savannah area Security Director which we hope to have in place early next year.
We are committed to providing the training and resources that secure the lives and experiences of each and every community member and institution. We have a responsibility and opportunity to fight back, just like the story of Chanukah where a small band of Jewish fighters fought back against their oppressors in their struggle for religious freedom.
This Sunday is one of those opportunities to create light in the darkness when the Savannah Jewish Federation joins Chabad and the City of Savannah for a communitywide Chanukah Celebration at Forsyth Park which will include vendors, photo booth, arts & crafts, latkes and sufganiot, bouncy houses for children, food, music (Nissim Black 4:30 performance). We will be joined by Israel Consul General to the Southeast, Anat Sulton-Dadon and Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.
We hope that you will join hundreds of others to celebrate, to stand up and dispel some of the darkness with the light of the first night of Chanukah!