My morning ritual involves 15 minutes of uninterrupted coffee drinking, scrolling through emails and reading the news. On Wednesday morning, a few congregants had already reached out, asking me to check our front doorstep. Apparently, within the blocks surrounding Sinai Temple were strewn packages of hate mail. Ziplock bags blaming Jews for evil within the world and the use of typical antisemitic phrases and slurs. Our security is aware of this action and took appropriate steps to report such behavior.
This has become commonplace in Los Angeles. Often, I will see one of you post that these bags were in other Los Angeles neighborhoods or within Beverly Hills. In a world where I have always felt safe and proud to publicly declare my Jewish identity, those posts bothered me, but didn’t cause worry or angst.
This time, when the bags were meant to be discovered by my Jewish children walking to synagogue, meant to be discovered by our Jewish neighbors’ children and others within Westwood, I felt punched. Someone took the time to methodically create each bag, drive in the middle of the night, stand outside our home, and spread hate within steps of where we sleep at night. Am I scared? A little. Am I angry? You bet.
But while some may see those hate-filled bags and determine that we must quiet and still our voices, I am fueled. The time has come for us to sit with our children and explain that even in sheltered West Los Angeles, while they are physically safe, the ancient animosity towards the Jewish people continues to breed. And the time has come to remind them, for our family, we will call out hatred of any form whenever we see it. Most of all, our Judaism doesn’t take a backseat in the face of those who wish to push us down. Rather, we speak up. We take pride in who we are. We gather. We pray. We revel in our Judaism and encourage fellow Jews to join us as we move forward in this world.
Hate has no place within our neighborhood. Not this time. Not ever.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.