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Connecting Charlottesville with the Leaders of Habonim

 

Picture of Rabbi Tom Gutherz Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville VA

Rabbi Tom Gutherz
Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville VA
Member Board of Trustees
Habonim Dror Foundation

Dear chaverot and chaverim:

In August of 2017, I saw with my own eyes the hate marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, where I am a rabbi. I saw the faces and heard the chants of “Jews will not replace us."

Since that time, it has become clear to anyone who is paying attention that antisemitism is indeed increasing, both in terms of actual incidents as well as in a resurgence of classic anti-Semitic tropes in the political discourse. Jewish conspiracy theories that all of us thought had been consigned to the dust-bin of history have risen, zombie-like, to find new audiences among people who are too young to remember the consequences of such propaganda. And the inability of some sectors of the anti-racism movements on the left to fully recognize the vulnerability many Jewish Americans feel is troubling.

Even in the aftermath of synagogue shootings, some cannot shake the long-standing conviction that Jews are a a community of privilege that “can take care of themselves.”

The Jewish community will be struggling to find the right response to the growing antisemitism on both the left and the right. Israel’s continuing drift towards the right gives more fodder to our genuine enemies on the left, and creates alienation with those who legitimately seek to end the injustice of the occupation. A savvy dark web stokes the alienation and rage of “white ethnocentrics” who are given cover by a public agenda that cynically promotes fear-mongering towards those who are not “true Americans.“

It is our young people who find themselves at the front line of these battles on college campuses, and who will emerge as the next generation of leadership in the American Jewish community. Those of us who grew up in Habonim Dror can appreciate the importance of the voice that we bring to these conversations: a progressive Zionist voice that acts in solidarity with struggles for justice in this country that is also able to articulate and to work for a different vision for Israel’s future.

When I meet and speak with the bogrimot of our movement, I am reminded again of how important it is to support this voice. Through its movement activities and machanot, Habonim Dror continues to nurture a different voice which will become ever more important in the struggle for the soul of the next generation of American Jews. I am giving them my support. I hope you will do the same.

Please make a generous donation today!!

Rabbi Tom Gutherz

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