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201http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2014/08/RabbiLyonsBlog-08_15_2014
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 08_15_2014
08/14/2014 05:00 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
Congregation Beth Israel
Houston, Texas
dlyon@beth-israel.org
www.beth-israel.org

 

Back to School. Students of all ages are heading back to school very soon. Whether they’re returning to familiar schools or new ones, all of them usually feel some anxiety until new routines take hold. So do their parents. However, this year they’re all returning to school or college campuses following a war in Israel and rising anti-Semitism across Europe and in America. The media war heightened everyone’s awareness of the world’s complexities and revealed its latent anti-Semites. In protests across the world, including Houston, passionate pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rallies shook Jewish communities out of their complacencies. On a positive note, Beth Israel hosted one of Houston’s most successful pro-Israel events where 2200 attendees stood with Israel, without incident. Even so, our children are not necessarily prepared to return to school and confront anti-Semitic and anti-Israel provocations. To assist in our children’s safe return to school, I’d like to offer a few points you can use to prepare them and yourself for a good start to the new year. Be prepared to say:


1. I’m an American, not an Israeli. This isn’t meant to duck the issue that we’re Jewish, but as Americans and not Israelis, we have no vote in Israeli politics and students have an incomplete understanding of Israeli circumstances.

2. I’m Jewish. Be a self-respecting Jewish person. It lifts one’s self-esteem and projects confidence about oneself everyone one goes. The same goes for parents, so it must begin at home where parents can say with self-respect, “I’m Jewish” or “I stand with Israel”.

3. America and Israel fight terrorists. Israel doesn’t fight Palestinians; Israel fights terrorists wherever they threaten Israel. America fights terrorists wherever they threaten American interests. America is currently fighting terrorists in a new conflict in northern Iraq. Radical Muslims are responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilian Muslims and Christians in places like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.


If children experience any threats, they should go immediately to an authority figure. If children hear or encounter any use of words like “Hitler”, “Concentration Camps” or other hate-filled language, or see swastikas on school property, they should go immediately to an authority figure. By no means should they instigate or enflame a situation. Many schools have no-tolerance policies for fighting, which can lead to suspensions, alternative schools, or other disciplinary actions. On college campuses, organized protests are likely being planned by both sides. Jewish students would do well to approach campus Hillel or ADL in their communities to learn the facts, how to respond, and what to say and do.

                In this time and place, we don’t have the luxury of hiding ourselves from current events. In Deuteronomy (22:3) we are taught, “You shall not remain indifferent” also translated “You shall not hide yourself.” Students must be informed at an age-appropriate level, be given reasons to feel secure, and be supported by parents, rabbis and congregations and Jewish community agencies. To assist you further, I’m including two links to ADL resources. Please read them, print them, and talk about them with your children. If you need assistance, David Scott, Director of Lifelong Learning at Beth Israel, is addressing high school students this weekend, and our Rabbis and Cantor are prepared to answer your calls or emails.

                We are not Israeli, but we are all Jewish. The Talmud teaches, “Every Jew is responsible for one another.” We are not just a faith, we are a people; “Am Echad” one people striving to Choose Life. May the New Year that begins with opening day of school bring with it the fulfillment of our hope for greater peace.

Click the links below, or copy and paste them into your browser:

http://www.adl.org/education-outreach/curriculum-resources/c/discussing-hate-and-violence.html#.U81w7fldUuc

http://www.adl.org

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