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Threats Against the Jewish Community

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Prayer vigil at Big Spring Park

Prayer vigil at Big Spring Park

Prayer vigil at Big Spring Park

C. Audrey Harper, Writer

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Only three months into 2017 and there have been over a 100 bomb threats on the Jewish community, multiple being in the state of Alabama. Of these threats, Jewish Community Centers have been the most affected, with 44% of the country’s centers being threatened.

The Jewish Community Center Association of America stated, “While we are relieved that all such threats have proven to be hoaxes and that not a single person was harmed, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life.”

Governor Robert Bentley released a statement in solidarity with the Jewish community, as the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham, Alabama has thrice been threatened this year, as well as President Donald Trump, whose daughter Ivanka Trump, who is Jewish.

“I don’t believe this country has seen this much anti-Semitism since the [19]30s,” said Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar from the Temple B’nai Shalom. “The best response is to reach out to each other, to form relationships, to practice love and compassion and kindness towards each other so that the Jewish community can continue to be a beacon of light and hope for others.”

Rabbi Bahar and other local religious leaders have already held interfaith events to harbor solidarity within the community, such as the prayer vigil at Big Spring Park on January 30th in response to the Trump administration’s executive order barring immigrants from 7 predominantly Muslim countries.

One of the organizers of the vigil Dexter Strong said, “Our Christian identities depend on our ability to love our neighbors especially when they are most vulnerable.”

While the vigil mainly focused on the Muslim ban, the central idea was #YallMeansAll – this of course including Jewish-Americans.

Not only have there been numerous threats on JCCs, but multiple cases of vandalism on Jewish graves. However, there has been an outpour of community service to help repair the affected Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and Muslim Americans in St. Louis, Missouri raised $91,000 in reparations as well.

On the fundraiser’s website, it stated, “Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration.”

While Juan Thompson was arrested in St. Louis for making a series of threats against multiple JCCs, the perpetrator of the threat against the Levite Jewish Community Center has not been caught yet.

Rabbi Bahar, however, remains hopeful, “Our community has faced worst in our history than this and survived, and we too shall prevail and thrive even though there are these ongoing threats.”

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