Standing Together

American politics is extremely divisive these days, and the ticking up of tensions on all sides of the political spectrum has led to an alarming increase in senseless and devastating violence against historically marginalized groups in the United States. The need for allies has never been stronger.

With the approaching Rosh Hashanah holiday this week, I have been thinking about several disturbing articles I’ve come across this month about violence against the Jewish community. This past weekend my son John and I visited the Illinois Holocaust Museum for the first time. We were already familiar with the extreme devastation and utter horror of the Holocaust from not only our history lessons and the many books we’ve read on the subject, but also from our visits to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. While we were interested in learning more from the exhibits at our nearby museum, our overarching goal was to learn how to become supporters and allies to targeted groups.

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

Albert Einstein

Our first act of solidarity was to join the museum. As a space for reflection and education against hate, our membership supports these efforts and makes us part of this community of hope. We also inquired about how John, a history buff with several Jewish friends, could become involved in volunteer efforts at the museum.  Not only were the museum staff very receptive to John’s interest, but they also encouraged him to use our family membership to return with a few friends next time.

One thing we can all try to do is call out bias and hateful rhetoric whenever we see it. You may remember our earlier post, when a teacher’s antisemitic remarks were shut down thanks to an innocent, yet brave third grader speaking out against hate. Anyone of us has the power to make a difference if we have the courage to try.

The White House recently sponsored a United We Stand Summit to support communities where some of the most vicious attacks have occurred and to give a platform to anti-discrimination initiatives. In addition, sixteen “Uniters” were recognized for their work to educate and build support for communities who face discrimination based on race, religion, ethnic or sexual identity. Reading the stories of these brave leaders is inspiring, and provide many examples for how we can stand together as allies.

Wishing a sweet and peaceful New Year to our friends in the Jewish community!!

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