Stand Against Hate

Aaron Igra, Web Editor

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The Jewish community mourns for the 11 people shot and killed in Pittsburgh. This is the latest in a string of shootings and other violent acts against minority groups in the U.S. Only a few days after the Pittsburgh shooting, anti-semitic letters were placed in the mailboxes of three Jewish faculty members at University Prep. For the first time in my life, I feel unsafe at my synagogue, and in UPrep.

Before these events, I felt like just another white kid. While people knew I was Jewish, I blended in with the dominant group at our school. I tuned out all the hate, all the police brutality and all the shootings that were so troubling to other minority groups. Now, I’ve had a glimpse of what other minority Americans have to deal with on a regular basis.

I feel deeply ashamed that this is what it takes for me to change my viewpoint and start to get involved. It shouldn’t take the death of civilians, whose only crime was exercising their constitutional right to freedom of religion. It shouldn’t take calling a friend just to see if they’re alive. It shouldn’t take explaining to a group of fifth graders I teach on Sundays that merely by coming to their place of worship, they will receive widespread hate and be at an increased risk for danger. But that’s what it did take.

In the past, UPrep has prided itself on its inclusivity. Unfortunately, a member of our community has gone to great lengths to cause fear and make their anti-semitic beliefs clear. This anti-semitic action is inline with national trends, as the rhetoric being used in the White House is having a widespread effect on the safety and security of all minority groups.  According to the Anti-Defamation League, since President Trump’s election in 2016, anti-semitic incidents have increased by more than 50%. Most Americans, along with most of our student body, have let this slide. We continue to make racist and anti-semitic “jokes”.

It took catastrophic events in both the larger Jewish community and within our small school community for me to come to the conclusion that I need to speak out against hate. My feeling of safety and security has been ripped from me. Don’t make the mistake I did. Don’t wait until you are targeted to take a stand.