The past few days have seen a sudden upsurge in the national media's interest in the phoned-in bomb threats that have targeted Jewish institutions around the country in recent months. In a somewhat delayed reaction, CNN published an article on CNN.com exploring the issue. The Orlando Sentinel interviewed my JCC colleague and some parents for an article scheduled for publication Sunday.
The bomb threats also were brought up in the president's press conference yesterday, although he did not directly answer a question related to the threats asked by Jake Turx, a reporter for Ami Magazine. The president's lack of a response and his exchange with the reporter angered and disappointed many in the Jewish community. American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris issued a statement criticizing the president and calling on his administration to take a strong, public stand against anti-Semitism. The Anti-Defamation League issued a press release asking the president what his administration is going to do about the recent surge of anti-Semitism. I was quite surprised that Turx defended the president in an interview Thursday evening.
Members of Congress have also taken up the issue. It was very good to receive the news from JFNA's Washington Action Office yesterday that our newly elected U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (7th District), together with Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, took bold action and circulated a letter among their colleagues in Congress urging the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to assess the situation in a timely manner, explain what actions are being taken to deter these threats, and identify and prosecute the perpetrators. The letter also urges federal funding to enable JCCs to enhance security measures. I immediately emailed Rep. Murphy thanking her for her support.
In the letter, which already has 40 bipartisan co-signatories, Reps. Murphy and Crowley mention that "these phone calls have an immediate emotional impact." The emotional impact is immediate and, unfortunately, long-lasting, and we are all dealing with it, each in our own way.
Aside from individual impact, there is a collective communal one, and I am very grateful to Rabbi David Kay for taking initiative, as he so often does, and coming up with a creative way to bring the Jewish community together to sing and heal on March 2 at Congregation Ohev Shalom.
The event is called "Crossing the Bridge" (Hebrew: לעבור את הגשר [La'avor et ha-gesher]), a reference to a teaching of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav: "When one must cross a very narrow bridge, the general principle and the main concept are not to make oneself at all afraid."
You can read more about the Community Sing-Along on our website. I hope to see you there on March 2!