Jackie Congedo — In Conversation
Under the Tent: Jews and Our Allies Stand Against Antisemitism
Amidst the rise of antisemitism around the country and right here at home, the Jewish Community Relations Council in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and 45 other Jewish organizations joined in solidarity together against antisemitism. Feeling the need to share space in this difficult time, and after over a year of COVID-19 restrictions, more than 300 people gathered in-person and online “Under the Tent” at the Mayerson JCC. JCRC’s Rabbinic Fellow from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Aaron Torop reflects on what the event meant in the fight against hate. – Jackie
The event was filled with passionate and eloquent speakers from across the Jewish and civic community. Rabbi Karen Thomashow spoke on behalf of the Greater Cincinnati Board of Rabbis, urging us to embrace the imagery that the Torah uses to describe the Jewish community, with deep roots beside a river that can withstand whatever storm comes our way. Rabbi Ezra Goldschmiedt of Congregation Sh’arei Torah said that we “stand in defiance of those who want to tear us apart,” united in support of the Jewish people, and to work for a world where no one, Jewish or non-Jewish, is threatened because of their identity. One of the most powerful moments was when Zahava Rendler, a holocaust survivor, shared how she draws strength from her experience in the Holocaust to confront today’s challenges. Her declaration that “I’m not a victim anymore” was met with rapturous applause.
As JCRC Director Jackie Conegdo shared with WVXU, in addition to bringing the Jewish community together, this event was also an opportunity “to stand with allies and friends in the civic and broader community to speak with one voice that antisemitism is unacceptable. It’s dangerous to all of us as Americans who live in a free and pluralistic society; and it’s something we can have no tolerance for.”
Bringing together dozens of Jewish organizations from across the community with diverse denominational, ideological, and programmatic backgrounds sent a powerful message that we stand as one against antisemitism and all forms of extremism and hate. Being “under the tent” was a much needed respite from the vitriolic and hateful rhetoric we too-often experience and created a sense of joy and pride in both our individual Jewish identities and the unity of our Jewish community. To watch these incredible speeches, listen to the songs of Jewish youth, and view the entire program, you can view the publicly available recording.
We are greatly comforted by the messages of support that we heard at the event itself and in the weeks prior from across the civic and interfaith community. Mayor John Cranley and Reverend Paul Booth Jr. both spoke passionately about the need to stand together as one Cincinnati community against antisemitism and extremism, no matter where it comes from. Mayor Cranley pledged that antisemitism “must be rooted out…all of us must do our part.” Rev. Booth Jr. proclaimed that when we all stand together under the tent, we do so “as a sign and as a symbol that our destinies are bound together…We will not be indifferent – not on our watch – to hate and antisemitism.”
Others wrote to the JCRC directly, sharing messages of support. “We are deeply sorry for this deplorable behavior and stand in solidarity with you and your faith. You will be in our prayers, and we will do our part to support and protect your Jewish sisters and brothers,” a faith leader wrote.
One community leader wrote, “Thanks for the work to keep our community together” during these especially trying times. Another wrote, “Thank you for your work, thank you for your voice, thank you for educating us so eloquently.” All in all, we received nearly two dozen (and counting) private messages from leaders in addition to the hundreds who have shown up in-person and shared their thoughts with us over the past few weeks.
If you were unable to attend the event but want to see the strength and beauty of our community standing together, please watch the recording here. We were grateful for the coverage of the event in the local news, including on Local 12 and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Jewish tradition teaches us that if we do not stand up and actively speak out against the sins of our community, we are complicit in them (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b). We will not be complicit in the rising tide of antisemitism and all forms of hate and extremism, and we stand strong with our allies who refuse to be complicit as well. Together, we will continue to work toward a world where all can be safe and free.
Thanks for caring about our community and what we do.
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