First Person: Defeat antisemitism with love

There is a lot being said about antisemitism these days. So much, maybe, that everything that there is to say has been said. Even so, I would like to share some of my thoughts on this subject and what we can do about it.

Antisemitism seems to have been around ever since the days of Abraham. I think its primary cause, as with all forms of prejudice, is fear of the unknown. This means those who are different from us, people whose world view we do not understand or agree with, alien ideas, foreign concepts; in other words, that very early childhood fear-stranger anxiety. And because Jews have been in the minority in most societies, quite literally strangers in a strange land, they have often been the target of such prejudice.

Thus, I believe that the antidote, indeed the cure for antisemitism, is for Jews not to be the stranger. Studies have shown, for example, that when a person who is a racist becomes acquainted with African Americans as friends, through marriage, or at work, he or she often loses the prejudice. It is difficult if not impossible to hate someone you know and are close to and have come to like and see as your friend, your co-worker, or even your son or daughter-in-law and the parent of your grandbaby.

So we as Jews need to mix and socialize a little more. Make some friends of different faiths. Visit their places of worship. Talk heart to heart with them. Share with them. Have interfaith services at your synagogue. Help them with singing the songs in Hebrew. Invite them to spend Shabbat with you and your family. Dispel myths or misunderstandings in a patient, compassionate, direct and truthful way. And most of all, be the very best Jew you can be – kind, generous, helpful, merciful, just, and most of all friendly and having a good sense of humor. Then you will defeat the enemy with love – the one thing he can’t stand – and you will make him your friend.

This is what I believe.

May HaShem Bless You and Shabbat Shalom.