Ari Ballaban — In Conversation
The Enduring Legacy of the Four Chaplains
Since both of my parents are rabbis and were Naval chaplains, this is a story I grew up hearing. The Four Chaplains were, to me, the paragon of interfaith cooperation and bravery—heroes to revere.
When I look at the world today, I sometimes wonder how we’ve fallen so far. In mid-January, the ADL issued a report finding, among other things, that 85% of Americans believe at least one anti-Jewish trope. That’s a 39% increase from 2019, when the number was “only” 61%. How could the society that created Fox, Good, Washington, and Poling end up here?
The truth is we’ve long had these shortcomings; it’s not as though WWII-era America had an excellent track record in race relations or treatment of Jews. Nevertheless, we should see the ADL report as a clear call to action. Our work as a JCRC is presently of renewed importance, and the Jewish community’s safety and ability to thrive relies on us. We can either work in partnership with others to drive wide-scale systemic change, benefiting all peoples…or we can resign ourselves to seeing the trends observed by the ADL continue to get worse, and, as a Jewish community, “go down with the ship,” as it were.
So, how can we avoid that fate? By doing what we do best: building relationships across Cincinnati’s diverse communities, ensuring that people get to know real Jews and preventing insidious and hateful thought from taking root. We are, after all, the Jewish Community RELATIONS council. That third word means more now than ever.