Updated: Nov 18
As you may know, antisemitic graffiti was found Monday morning near the Bethesda Trolley Trail. This is the second time this year that such graffiti was found in that spot; it had happened once before in August.
On Monday night a gathering was held at the site. Jews and non-Jews gathered together, with people from many different religions, ethnicities, and cultures. When the participants in the gathering arrived at the site, they found that County employees had already repainted the walls to cover over the graffiti.
Yesterday I received the following message from the County government’s Interfaith Liaison:
We are appalled to hear about another incident of anti-Semitic graffiti found yesterday morning near the Bethesda trolly trail. Acts of hate against one group impact all of us, and it’s important for us to not only educate ourselves but to also stand for those around us.
This incident is reflective of our need to better understand those of different cultural and religious identities so we can combat hate in our community. This is an upsetting time for all of us, but especially our Jewish friends and neighbors.
We stand in solidarity against these anti-Semitic acts, and will seek further opportunities to stand together against hate in Montgomery County. Stay tuned for upcoming events and information, and we encourage you to send events, opportunities and information to email@example.com.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote to you about a meme which posited that, while Jews often stood up for other groups which were attacked, other groups did not stand up for us. I said at the time that this meme was factually incorrect as well as harmful. I think the reaction of the Montgomery County community to recent acts of antisemitism -- including the unanimous approval a couple of weeks ago of a County Council resolution condemning antisemitism -- proves the point I was trying to make.
The last several years have seen an explosion of public expressions of all kinds of hatred. I do not believe that attitudes have really changed much -- and survey data indicates that they have not -- but those who have hatred in their hearts are more comfortable expressing their hatred than they used to be. When incidents like this happen, it is important that the entire community -- and not merely the targeted group -- responds.
As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoon from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian