Bila’am Revisited: Showing Up in Alameda

Image: The sign in front of Temple Israel of Alameda, CA. From their website.

Temple Israel in Alameda, CA was vandalized this week. Someone came by during the night Wednesday and broke two windows, and tried to break the glass doors of the synagogue with rocks. In the wake of the white supremacist violence in #Charlottesville, this was even more upsetting than it would normally be to local Jews.

Temple Israel is a small synagogue of only about 100 households. They have a part-time rabbi. They are about 15 minutes from my home, so I planned to get myself over there for Friday evening to show solidarity with the congregation. Then the emails began to come in – our rabbi, Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin was organizing our congregation, Temple Sinai, to show up in a group. There was to be a vigil with the Alameda mayor and city council before Shabbat services.

As it turned out, it was a real community affair: lots of Jews, lots of friends of Jews, and lots of Alamedans who were furious that some lowlife had brought such shame on their town. We heard from all the community leaders: from the mayor, Trish Herrera Spencer, the vice mayor, Malia Vella, and our state assembly representative, Rob Bonta. The acting chief of police gave his report and told us that the vandalism was being investigated as a hate crime. It was clear to anyone present and to anyone watching the report later that night on TV that the vast majority of Alamedans intended to send a message to bigots: bigotry is not welcome in their city.

Then we adjourned to the sanctuary inside to have Shabbat services.

Even though a lot of people left after the vigil, the little shul was jammed with people. One member of the temple staff had asked me if I’d do a reading in the service, so I sat in the front row. When I stood at the lectern to read the blessing, I was so moved by the sight of the crowd that I had to comment on it. What I was thinking was actually from a prayer in the morning service:

!מַה-טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ, יַעֲקֹב; מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ, יִשְׂרָאֵל

How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your dwellings, O Israel! – Numbers 24:5

The man who speaks those words in the Bible, Bila’am, goes on orders of King Balak to curse the Israelites, but he finds that he is unable to do so. Instead of a curse, he delivers a blessing. It is a beautiful blessing, and we repeat it in every morning service.

In much the same way, an evil person came to curse the Jews of Alameda with terror. Broken windows carry a dark meaning for Jews ever since Kristallnacht, a night of pogroms that was in many ways the opening salvo of the Holocaust. In breaking those windows, though, he succeeded in bringing out the good people of Alameda and the surrounding Jewish communities to comfort and strengthen the Jews he had intended to terrorize!

The evening also brought home to me the power of showing up. The people who came brought comfort and strength to a community. I am strengthened in my resolve to show up, to be visible in my support, for all minorities who are suffering and terrorized in this present time. I am resolved to show up more often for more people: in this particular time of bigotry, Jews are a target but not among the main targets. We Jews need to show up for African Americans, for immigrants, for Muslims, and for others who are in the cross hairs of white supremacists.

Have scooter, will travel! This week I’m going to Sacramento with ReformCA to lobby for prison reform. Our prisons are not places of justice. While someone who commits a crime should pay a price for that crime, that’s not how our justice system is working today. If you are interested in learning more about that, I recommend the film on Netflix, 13th.

I’d love to know where you are showing up to support the oppressed. Leave your stories in the comments section!

Help the Jews of Charlottesville, VA

Image: Photo of Congregation Beth Israel, from their page.

Congregation Beth Israel of Charlottesville, VA stands one block from the park in which the alt-right/white supremacist rally began last weekend. The synagogue building is undamaged but faces a new set of problems. Because of its location near the now-notorious park, they face a completely new and unbudgeted security situation.

From the page of Congregation Beth Israel:

The synagogue, one of the oldest continually operating in the South, was not damaged during this past weekend’s events though CBI is only one block from the park in which the alt-right rally began. Services continued as usual on Friday evening and Saturday morning, with congregants coming together to worship and share.

CBI’s rabbinic leadership were active participants in the planning and completion of the local faith community’s response to the events. They are both safe and are helping the community process what happened, especially as it mourns the three lives lost so senselessly. One CBI member was injured by the terrorist who used his car as a weapon, but is recovering at a local medical center and is expected to do so fully.

Your generous desire to help financially is also sincerely appreciated. Your gift will be applied in part to defray increased security costs and in part to fund CBI’s social justice and social action functions. You may send your gift to CBI, P O Box 320, Charlottesville, VA  22902 or use this site for making your gift online.

I have contributed to the fund, and I invite my readers to join me. If you know of other Charlottesville institutions seeking assistance, I hope you will share them and the appropriate links in the comments.

Part 2: 10 Things We Can Do Now About #Charlottesville

Image: “Seek Justice” written on a brick wall. Art by Rabbi Ruth Adar.

This message is aimed primarily at readers in the United States. It is a follow-up to the previous post Part 1: Why #Charlottesville is Different.

We can:

  1. Remember that we are all in this together. We Jews may have disagreements on some topics with each other or with other groups, but now is not the time to focus on that. What we have in common with Black Lives Matter and other minority groups is that white supremacists hate us all. Benjamin Franklin once said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
  2. Write, fax, call, and email our Congresspersons and Senators, demanding that Congress forthrightly condemn the events in Charlottesville and the ideology of white supremacy.
  3. Write the White House, condemning the President’s support of white supremacists and his association with staffers like Steven Bannon and Sebastian Gorka who have publicly espoused “alt-right” ideology. We each have to decide exactly what we will ask him to do.
  4. Write our local papers asking for a clear statement from our local officials condemning white supremacy. This is one time when it’s good to be a NIMBY.
  5. Support organizations that track and fight hate in the USA. This includes the NAACP, the ADL, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  6. Get on the mailing list of the Religious Action Center.  It describes itself as “the hub of Jewish social justice and legislative activity in Washington, D.C.” The RAC is a great place to learn about social justice initiatives and to join with others to protest injustice. If not the RAC, find some other organization where you can combine your effort with that of others.
  7. Recognize that there are Jews of Color, people who face both the oppression of anti-semitism and the oppression of racism. Learn about them. One place to learn is the website of Be’chol Lashon, “In Every Voice.” Another is JIMENA, Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. Recognize that there have been Jews with brown or black skins back to the very beginnings of Judaism.
  8. Drop the defensive attitude about other people’s oppression. When someone talks about their people’s troubles, we should not immediately reply “But not all of us…” or “But Jews are oppressed too…” When someone is talking about their people’s troubles, we need to LISTEN. Just listen. If they ask for a response, say, “I’m listening.” Listen and learn.
  9. Educate ourselves. We have a responsibility as Jews to study and to learn. Start with one article or book. Then read another. Some reading lists from the internet:
    1. Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race – articles as well as books
    2. Tim Wise’s Reading List – categorized by topic
    3. White People Challenging Racism reading list
    4. Suggested Reading from the Social Justice Training Institute
  10. Speak up. I have an awful time speaking up to my elders, but the situation is dire. When someone says something hateful or disparaging about people of another race or religion, we must speak up. I have been practicing in front of the bathroom mirror, saying firmly: “I don’t like that kind of talk. Please don’t.”

These are things we can do. If you have ideas about more ways to fight this situation, I hope you will suggest them in the comments.

Justice, Justice you shall pursue! – Deuteronomy 16:20


Why Is Purim Essential?

Image: 19th c painting of Hasidic Jews celebrating Purim with a Sephardic Jew (left). The inscription  “Ad lo yada” is part of a passage from Talmud urging Jews to feast and celebrate. Collection of Isaac Einhorn, Tel Aviv. (Erich Lessing/Art Resource NY.) Public Domain.

The Scroll of Esther records a grave threat to the Jews of Persia, a threat that was quelled only by the massacre of our enemies. The book makes clear that there was no other way: it was a fight to the death. You might think that the “lesson learned” would be: Fight back, even if you have to kill.

However, this is the command near the end of the Scroll of Esther:

Mordecai recorded these events. And he sent dispatches to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus, near and far, charging them to observe the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, every year — the same days on which the Jews enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.  – Esther 9: 20-22

Mordecai did these things:

  1. He wrote the story.
  2. He commanded that the Jews of Persia observe the 14th and 15th of Adar.
  3. He commanded that they feast, send gifts to one another, and send presents to the poor.

This is where we get the four mitzvot of Purim:

  1. Hear the Scroll read aloud.
  2. Have a feast.
  3. Send gifts to one another.  (Traditionally, food.)
  4. Send gifts to the poor.  (Traditionally gifts of food.)

The ancient rabbis were particularly concerned that everyone hear the Scroll of Esther read aloud. Mishnah Megillah  begins:

The Megillah [Scroll of Esther] is read on the eleventh, on the twelfth, on the thirteenth, on the fourteenth, [or] on the fifteenth [of Adar], not earlier and not later. Cities surrounded with walls from the days of Yehoshua son of Nun read it on the fifteenth [of Adar]. Villages and large cities read it on the fourteenth, but villages read in advance on the day of assembly.

 How does it work? If the fourteenth of the month fell on a Monday, villages and large cities read on that day, and those surrounded by a wall – on the next day. If it fell on a Tuesday or a Wednesday – villages [read] in advance on the day of assembly, and large cities read on that day, and those surrounded by a wall – on the next day. If it fell on a Thursday, villages and large cities read on that day, and those surrounded by a wall – on the next day. If it fell on the day before Shabbat – villages [read] in advance on the day of assembly, and large cities and cities surrounded by a wall read on that day. If it fell on Shabbat, villages and large cities read in advance on the day of assembly, and those surrounded by a wall – on the next day. If it fell after Shabbat, villages [read] in advance on the assembly day, and large cities read on that day, and cities surrounded by a wall – on the next day. – Mishnah Megillah 1:1-2
That’s just a taste. The ancient rabbis were absolutely determined that we should hear the words of the Scroll of Esther every single year. If not one day, then another day. If not the other day, then yet another. They convey a sense of urgency in those lines. Mishnah is usually telegraphic, brief bursts of commands and questions, but here the rabbis hammer at us: Read it. Read it. READ IT!!!


And if we look at their times, all becomes clear. The Mishnah was written down from oral tradition by the year 200 CE, just after two bloody revolts that scattered the Jewish people into the Galut, an exile, that would last for almost two thousand years. They had seen the murder of their greatest teachers. They had seen families torn apart, entire towns sold into slavery, their holy city ground into dust. They had seen the absolute worst that Rome could dish out, and they knew it would not end anytime soon.


They knew that we needed Purim for all the days that lay ahead.


The message of Purim is “Don’t give up.” The message of Purim is “Persist.” The message of Purim is that the bad guys are going to do what they do – they’re Haman! – but we will not be defeated. We are so sure that we will not be defeated that we schedule our celebration in advance.


Yes, in a good year, it’s a children’s holiday. But in a tough year, in a year when our dead are defiled and our Jewish Community Centers receive threat after threat after threat, we remind ourselves that we are tough competitors, so tough that we will schedule our celebration amidst it all.


We will not be intimidated.
We will not let you see us sweat.
Those are the defiant messages of the holiday of Purim. We celebrate to remind ourselves of that.

9 Ways to Fight Anti-Semitism

Image: Vandalism to more than 100 graves in the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery  in Philadelphia was discovered Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP and SFGate.)

  • Vandals did major damage to Jewish cemeteries in Missouri and Pennsylvania in the first two months of 2017.
  • Offices of the Anti-Defamation League in Manhattan and San Francisco received bomb threats in the first two months of 2017.

Those are big stories. There are countless other smaller stories of vandalism and hate speech against Jews in the United States in 2017. The year began with graffiti at my alma mater, which I wrote about in Jew-Hatred Hits Home.

Here is what ordinary citizens can do to address this wave of Jew hatred:

  1. Recognize that this is part of a wave of hate crimes in America. This report from the Southern Poverty Law Center details the rise in anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT and anti-woman activity since the election. Anti-Muslim hate crimes surged 67% in 2016.
  2. Call or write your elected officials at every level of government expressing concern about the uptick in hate crimes in America. Don’t let up. When you’ve called them all, call them again. If you write, use postcards. Envelopes are much slower, since they require extra security (remember anthrax?)
  3. When you see law enforcement or elected officials taking action, reward their behavior. Write a letter to the local paper, email your thanks to them directly. Animal trainers will tell you that carrots are much more effective than sticks in shaping behavior. Don’t miss any opportunity: it may indeed be their job, but too often it is a thankless job, so saying “thank you” is important.
  4. Be patient with security measures at threatened institutions. The enemies are the bigots, not the receptionist who asks your name and business before she buzzes you into the building. She is trying to keep everyone safe by verifying your identity.
  5. Reach out to coworkers and friends who are members of threatened groups. Tell them that you stand with their group (and mean it.) Demonstrate your solidarity in any way that presents itself (an invitation to dinner, showing up at a rally, donating to a fundraiser for repairs of vandalism.)
  6. Have zero tolerance for hate speech. Be clear with anyone talking smack about any threatened group that you disapprove.  If you have trouble thinking what to say, just drop your jaw and stare at them until they get the message. (My thanks to Mary Hofmann for this technique.)
  7. Block haters on social media. Don’t engage – they love engagement. Unless they are someone with whom you already have a relationship, you are unlikely to change their minds, and any “zinger” you fire off will just delight them and cause them to come back for more. Most social media platforms have a blocking function. Use it immediately to cut off their fun.
  8. Keep in mind what terrorists want: they want us to be afraid. Make the decisions you need to make for your families, but to whatever degree possible, do not allow terrorists to dictate your life. If you talk about this on social media, do not advertise any fear they have managed to stir up; save that for private conversations. In public and semi-public forums like social media, keep in mind that haters are listening, too, and don’t give them what they crave: your fear.
  9. Support the organizations that fight hate. Join or send a donation to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. These are not government organizations. They cannot function without our support.


Hats, Slogans, Signs: Preparing for the Women’s March

Image: DREAM Act Protesters for President Obama’s Visit to Austin by Todd Dwyer (some rights reserved) Listening to protesters goes with the job, Mr. President.

No one who knows me well will be surprised to know that I’m going to be in the Women’s March in Oakland this Saturday. I and a lot of other women are going to go to the street to raise up our concerns about the expressed agenda of the new administration.

It sounds like there are going to be a bunch of us. 31,000 people have said they are going on Facebook; 45,000 more have registered as “interested.” From my synagogue alone, we have over 100 people registered. I’m going to be there on my scooter.

To those who say “give him a chance” I say, I’ve been working on that since November 10. What I heard during the campaign was a lot of hateful rhetoric about Mexicans, and immigrants, and Muslims, and African-Americans. What I have seen since the election has been a swift upsurge of violence against those groups, with the President-Elect saying hardly a peep about it, despite the fact that he tweets about many other things. For a man who prides himself on plain speaking, he is very coy about saying “Cut it out!” to people who do violence in his name.

So I am going to hit the streets with a few friends, and we will engage in a peaceful demonstration of our concerns. Peaceful, because I am a law-abiding person. Peaceful because what I want for this nation is peace.

Normally I would not participate in a political event on Shabbat, but this is no longer a normal situation.  Nothing about the past transition period was normal, and I have the impression that many of Mr. Trump’s supporters are happy that it was not a normal transition. This fills me with alarm. If I am wrong (I would love to be wrong) then at worst I am being foolish. I am willing to look foolish when I believe lives are at stake.

About hats: I’m not wearing any headgear named after a vulgarism for a body part. I have no judgement on someone else, it’s just not my thing. I am serious about what I’m doing.

About signs: I’ve been thinking all week about what to put on my sign. I finally settled on this:

לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל-דַּם רֵעֶךָ

Do not stand by while your neighbor bleeds. – Leviticus 19:16

That seemed to me to be the verse that best applied to my concerns. I am worried for friends who have health insurance through the ACA but who have pre-existing conditions. I fear for disabled people. Right now there does seem to be a guarantee that the ACA is going away, but no equal guarantee that it will be replaced by something better.

I am worried for friends: African-Americans, Latinx, Muslims, and trans persons who have been targeted with hateful rhetoric and by outright violence. I know some young DREAMers who are terrified. They haven’t been “given a chance” – no, even before the new administration came in, the fans of that administration have been giving us what I fear is a preview of the Trump years. I don’t like seeing and hearing threats to my neighbors; I am horrified by accounts of violence against them.

And honestly, I’m worried for the Jews. In the past two weeks there have been two waves of bomb threats against 30 Jewish institutions in 17 states including two JCCs in my area. JCCs more often than not have daycare centers. We heard not a peep of concern from President-Elect Trump. (I know, his daughter is Jewish. This does not explain his silence.)

I am done waiting for Mr. Trump to have an awakening of conscience. I am planning to bring my concerns to his attention on the first full day that he sits in the Oval Office. Get used to it, Mr. President: listening to protestors is now part of your job.


Jew-Hatred Hits Home

I am mad. I am hopping, spitting, busting-things mad.

Here’s what I’m mad about:


Swastika outside HUC-JIR
Vandalized sign in front of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH. Photo credit: Gannett Newspapers.

This is the sign outside Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, OH. Someone decided it was a worthwhile way to spend their time to paint a swastika in front of the oldest rabbinical school in the Western Hemisphere.

I headlined this “Jew Hatred Hits Home” because this is my school, one of my Jewish homes. I studied on another campus, but my degree and my ordination are from HUC-JIR. My mentors and teachers studied at this school. The “chain of tradition” first described in the Mishnah runs through this campus to hundreds of rabbis and their students:

משֶׁה קִבֵּל תּוֹרָה מִסִּינַי, וּמְסָרָהּ לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ, וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ לִזְקֵנִים, וּזְקֵנִים לִנְבִיאִים, וּנְבִיאִים מְסָרוּהָ לְאַנְשֵׁי כְנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה. הֵם אָמְרוּ שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים, הֱווּ מְתוּנִים בַּדִּין, וְהַעֲמִידוּ תַלְמִידִים הַרְבֵּה, וַעֲשׂוּ סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה:

Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshua, and Yehoshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples and make a fence for the Torah. – Pirkei Avot, 1.1

I call this “Jew-Hatred” rather than “Anti-Semitism” because I have had it with the faux-intellectual terminology of the Nazis and their ilk. Their predecessors and they may have coined and popularized the word, but I refuse to use it any more. I’ll call it what it is: Jew-hatred.

I could tell you about the background of my school, why it is particularly galling that this sign was marked with a swastika, but my colleague Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin has already written a beautiful article in his Martini Judaism column with Religion News Service. Click the link for more of the story, and to discover another blog I read regularly.

Do not kid yourself that this is “random rednecks” or some such thing. We’ve seen a dramatic uptick in Jew-Hating incidents in 2016, especially since the election. Those and the even more dramatic increase in anti-Muslim incidents worry me very much. The Anti-Defamation League has published a list of the primary manifestations of Jew-hatred in 2016, and it is chilling.

Eight years ago, when I first began teaching basic Judaism classes, I would preface my lecture on Jew-Hatred with a little explanation of why we needed to study it. I remember saying that while it was “hard to believe that there could be a resurgence of it in the United States,” history shows us that it has a way of coming back. Then I’d say, “but let’s hope not in our lifetimes.”

I can’t say that anymore.

Update: This article talks about the response of the Cincinnati citizenry and leadership to the vandalism. I have to say that it reassures me. Also, while I chose to let my emotion show in my post, I think the low-key response of the College-Institute itself makes me proud. I continue to learn from my teachers!

8 More Actions Against Hate

Image: 15 people demonstrate, holding up banners with hearts. 

In American Hate: It’s Time to Speak Up I listed 7 ways to act against hate in America. Since then, more possibilities have crossed my radar, and I want to share them with you. Understand that some of these are time limited: act now, or be too late.

  1. Urge Congress to Stand Firm on White House Leadership Appointments. This week President-Elect Trump named Steve Bannon as White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. As an editor and as a strategist in the Trump campaign, Mr. Bannon promoted white supremacist ideologies including anti-Semitism, misogyny, racism and Islamophobia. The Religious Action Center has provided a form that will help you look up your senators’ and representative’s addresses and send a letter protesting this appointment.
  2. The 2016 Election isn’t over yet! Louisiana still hasn’t voted on a Senator and the Democrat in the race has a good chance to win. His name is Foster Campbell, a rancher, who was was elected to the Louisiana Public Service Commission with more than 78 percent of the vote in 2008. According to Jonathan Walczak writing in The Hill: “Electing Foster Campbell is the most immediate way to rebuke President-elect Trump. A Campbell victory would mean a 51-49 split in the Senate. This is the last best way to make a difference in 2016.” To help, first go to and check Mr. Campbell out. If you can support him with a donation, no matter how small, it will help. If you know voters in Louisiana, call and remind them to show up and vote in the runoff on Dec 10.
  3. Read this Sally Kohn articles in the Washington Post: This is what white people can do to support #BlackLivesMatter. See what applies to you and run with it.
  4. Support the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). It is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants. Again, visit the website, read their materials, and donate if you can and if their goals sound right to you.
  5. Subscribe to your local newspaper and to publications that don’t preach anyone’s party line. The “Fourth Estate” is an essential part of a healthy democracy, and our has been sadly weakened by the advent of “free” online news sources. When you pay for your newspaper, online or offline, you are paying journalists to ask questions and dig for answers. The good ones annoy politicians of ALL stripes. Personally I subscribe to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and SFGate, the news source for the SF Bay Area. There is no more important investment you can make in the functioning of our democracy than to hire some good watchdogs.
  6. Volunteer and/or give financial support to Planned Parenthood. Republican plans for the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court do not bode well for women’s access to reproductive medical care, birth control, and legal abortion.
  7. Join a synagogue, if you haven’t already done so. Ask about their social justice programming. Combining your energy with that of other Jews makes for more effective activism.
  8. Educate yourself. Listen to minority voices online, in print, and in person. Don’t assume you know what’s best for African-Americans, Muslims, women, poor people, Native Americans, incarcerated persons, LGBTQI, or disabled persons. They aren’t stupid, even though institutionalized racism has taught those of us with privilege to think they are. Don’t assume that your minority status makes you an expert on someone else’s needs. In short, don’t talk – LISTEN.

What are you doing to fight hate in America? If you are a member of a minority, what have you seen that worked?

American Hate: It’s Time to Speak Up

Image: Storm clouds gather over a landscape. Photo by Unsplash at

Friends, I want to make you aware of something happening right now in the United States. This is something that transcends politics; whether you voted Trump or Clinton or 3rd Party or not at all, it concerns all Americans of good will.

More than 800 journalists have received hate mail and/or death threats via Twitter and other social media outlets over the past year, and the pace has escalated since the election. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report:

The top 10 most targeted journalists – all of whom are Jewish – received 83 percent of those 19,253 tweets. The top 10 includes conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman, and CNN’s Sally Kohn and Jake Tapper.

More than 2/3 of these tweets were sent by only 1200 Twitter accounts, out of the 313 million accounts currently active on Twitter. Twitter has deactivated 21% of the offending accounts; the ADL is in conversation with them about the others.

Language in these tweets is overtly anti-Semitic. In an Atlantic article by Emma Green, she reports:

Beyond hateful language, users often photoshop journalists’ faces into images from the Holocaust, like Jews lined up to get food in concentration camps or lying in bunks in barracks. Users might share cartoons that depict ugly stereotypes about Jews, showing them with big noses and surrounded by piles of money. The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, was one of the handful of most frequently targeted journalists. In June, he wrote about some of the tweets he’s recently received, including a cartoon of the U.S. “Jewpreme Court,” a picture of money coming out of an oven, and a tweet that asked, “Why do Jews get so triggered when we mention ovens?”

There are death threats as well, as well as threats against the families of the journalists. This is not the kind of speech which qualifies for the protection of the First Amendment. Specific threats have been brought to the attention of law enforcement and I hope will continue to be pursued as the crimes they are.

Among the bios of the 1200 source accounts, the words that appear most frequently are “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative,” and “white.” The Trump campaign has not endorsed or supported this language; troublingly, though, it has not repudiated the anti-Semitic language and behavior of supporters, either.

I am aware that Mr. Trump has Jewish family members. I’m not sure why he does not take the anti-Semitic language of his supporters more seriously.  History teaches us that this kind of hate never stops with just one small group of people. I assure you that if Mr. Trump and his administration do not discourage this hate fully and quickly, we are going to see things in America no decent American ever wanted to see. 

It might start with “just the journalists,” “just the Jews,” “just the Muslims,” or “just the black activists.” I assure you that it will not stop there unless we put a stop to it now. We are seeing a rapid escalation of this language, plus acts of violence, and there is no time to waste.

What can we do? Here are some options:

  1. Send a strongly worded message to Mr. Trump directly (@RealDonaldTrump) asking that he repudiate his supporters’ hateful words and behavior and that he order them to stop it now. If you voted for him, please say so.
  2. If you are a Twitter user and you see hate speech against any group or a threat to any person, report it. Here is a set of directions for doing so. Don’t shrug it off. Twitter has been slow to respond to individual incidents, so it is important that your report be available as support to other reports. For other ideas, check out the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry.”
  3. Send supportive messages to any journalist whose work you appreciate. All of them, not just the Jews, are feeling threatened these days.
  4. Send supportive messages to anyone you know who might feel threatened by the outcome of the election. Tell them what you are doing to work against hate. Don’t tell them, “It’s going to be OK.” The rhetoric during the election was very threatening and incidents of actual violence against minorities have escalated since the election.
  5. If you see harassment or bullying of any kind in person, intervene before it escalates into violence. Read What Should I Do If I See Bullying? for an effective, psychologically sound method for intervention. Know what to do, so that when you see it you will know how to act safely and effectively.
  6. Support the Anti-Defamation League. Read their website. Sign up for their newsletters. Stay informed. ADL is not a partisan organization; major supporters include Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, lefties and right-wingers.
  7. Support the Southern Poverty Law Center. They track the hate groups behind many of these threats, and provide valuable information to law enforcement. Read the article on that website entitled White Supremacists Think Their Man Won the White House.

When I was ordained in 2008 I never dreamed that I’d have to write an article like this. Not here, not in the United States of America! I beg you to choose your course of action and follow through on it.