On Thanksgiving many of us come together with our family and/or friends to pause in our life and reflect on what we are thankful for and to have a good meal. This year, we imagine that, in addition to the abundance of food, there will be a lot of conversation about world events and great concern about the future and how to imagine a more peaceful world.
These past few weeks have been a difficult time as terrorist attacks against innocent civilians have erupted in Israel, France, Lebanon, Nigeria, Mali; every day it seems like the list of locations is growing. Over the past three months 23 people have been killed in Israel, and in Paris 130 people were killed in one day.
We are saddened by the inexplicable loss of life and also very concerned about the continuing success of ISIL and the incessant calls for violent incitement against innocent civilians. Our hearts also go out to the millions of innocent Syrian refugees and the 60 million displaced people worldwide. We are upset and scared and concerned about the future.
While all these events are occurring overseas, at home there has been a sharp increase in anti-Israel efforts on our college campuses, including a rally at Montclair State University, and this week’s passing of a BDS resolution at the American Anthropological Association.
It sometimes feels like the sky is falling. But together we are strong and can make a difference by taking action.
We in the Community Relations Committee are addressing these, and other concerns of the Jewish community, head on. This past weekend at Super Sunday, Federation's community and fundraising day, we had the opportunity to welcome 17 elected officials to our community including Senator Menendez, NJ Lt Governor Guadagno, Congressman Frelinghuysen, and Congressman Lance. We spoke with them about our concerns – encouraging them to speak out against the violent deaths taking place in Israel, among other important issues to our community.
During this past month we testified before the NJ State Assembly about growing BDS and applauded their decision to pass a resolution condemning it. We supported the students at Montclair State University to handle the anti-Israel programs at their school. And we are working with our rabbis to reach out to Christian clergy to form partnerships to advocate in a united voice for a two-state solution in Israel.
Last Thursday, the NJ League of Municipalities passed an anti-trafficking resolution introduced by our NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
And we applaud the United Nations resolution last Friday that called upon nation states to eradicate ISIL, and to the increased efforts of the U.S. government to increase military efforts in this regard.
We hope that you will take time on Thanksgiving to imagine a peaceful world, and that, afterwards you will join us in our efforts — to work on social justice in this world, to combat anti-Israel efforts in our community, to achieve a two-state solution in Israel, and to build a more diverse, open shared society both here and around the world.
Elliot & Melanie
P.S. One way you can get involved is to join us on December 8 at 7 p.m. at the JCC in West Orange. We are sponsoring a program “In Vienna, Bearing Witness to the Refugee Crisis” featuring Roberta Elliot, a CRC member and co-chair of the Jewish Women’s Foundation who recently spent a week in Vienna volunteering on the frontlines of Europe’s refugee crisis. She will share her observations and photographs of the Syrian, Afghani, Iraqi, and Iranian refugees she met on her trip. Roberta’s own family were refugees from in 1938, so this fascinating project brings that history full circle.