Last weekend’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue is only the latest in a recent increase in threats toward the Jewish community. That's according to the Anti-Defamation League, which says antisemitic incidents rose 60 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Rebecca Dubowe is the rabbi at Bloomington’s Moses Montefiore Temple, which is taking part in a nationwide effort by hosting a solidarity Shabbat Friday.
Dubowe said the Shabbat will let the community gather, have a seat at the table and meet new people.
“Many, many congregations are doing that as well,” the rabbi said. “Because there is a great desire from the greater community saying, again, ‘We want to be there with you, we want to mourn with you, and we want to take steps of action that would allow us to be together.’”
She said she believes the increase in antisemitic incidents is because people lost touch of how to talk face-to-face with those who are different from them.
The rabbi also noted there have not been any antisemitic incidents or threats made in the Bloomington-Normal area.
“We are very fortunate that we have a good relationship with Bloomington Police,” she said. “We’ve worked very closely together and they have really checked in to make sure we are OK and feeling safe.”
In fact, Dubowe said the temple received an outpouring of support from the community following the Pittsburgh shooting. On Sunday morning community members offered to link arms in a chain around the temple in an attempt to create a safe space.
Dubowe said that could have scared children coming for religious education classes, so instead they held an open house with coffee and donuts. She believes at least 100 community members attended.
The open house was last-minute, she said, but it showed the need for the temple to hold the solidarity Shabbat.
“Because not only are we the ones facing horrific encounters. Our brothers and sisters also have been targeted, including the LGBTQ community,” Dubowe said. “So we’re all in this together and people are stepping up and saying, ‘We will stand by you,’ and we’re saying, ‘Yes. We will stand by you as well.’”
She said the community needs to sit together and acknowledge their differences, but know that there are still commonalities like the ability to love and respect one another.
Meanwhile, a separate communitywide vigil for the Pittsburgh victims will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Illinois State University's Schroeder Plaza. It's sponsored by the Hillel Jewish Student Union, the Chabad Jewish student group, and the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.
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