Proudly Shaping the Future

Jewish Federation is committed to helping create and support a vibrant, caring, connected and enduring Jewish community. They proudly shape the future of Jewish life by developing leaders of tomorrow, strengthening the Jewish identities of local youth and teens, and building connections to Israel. However, today, in addition to these efforts, Federation must also focus on an alarming increase in antisemitism that threatens us all.

Antisemitism is an ancient hatred that takes many forms. As author Bari Weiss explains, it is “an ever-morphing conspiracy theory in which Jews play the starring role in spreading evil in the world.” And this ancient hatred, which has led to persecution of and violence towards Jews over many centuries, is surfacing today seemingly from every direction, in ways that are sometimes insidious, always reprehensible, and increasingly dangerous.

For the San Diego Jewish community, these incidents highlight the constant reality of our lives. Rhetoric that permeates the national public discourse combines with on-the-ground hateful incidents. But once these stories exit the news cycle, the story does not end for Jews. The broader public may be unaware of the level of resources, time and planning Federation, along with every synagogue, Jewish preschool or day school, and Jewish agency devotes to security. Cumulatively the Jewish community has spent millions of dollars on security, including more than $3 million last year alone in non-profit security grants. Federation is working to raise $1.2 million over the next three years for physical security improvements at Jewish organizations, increased security planning and coordination, and, supporting their soon to be hired community security director. This individual will be part of a nationally networked Jewish community security team that offers cutting edge resources to monitor threats and rapidly respond to crises.

Nine local synagogues recently completed the Jewish Community Security Institute (CSI) that is run in partnership with ADL San Diego. The CSI provided high-level tactical and strategic best practices to enhance the synagogues’ approach to security. Leaders learned about operationalizing threat assessments, reviewing manuals and protocols, the role of training and drills, the importance of situational awareness, and safeguarding against cyber-attacks. Now, all nine synagogues are compiling security plans to comprehensively address their security needs – and Jewish Federation awarded $10,000 grants to each synagogue to help implement these plans.

As Covid recedes from our daily lives and we again gather in person, the Federation’s commitment to security is as important as ever. Like many other minority communities, the Jewish community draws strength from each other when celebrating holidays, marking life’s moments, and learning with each other, in community. For our Jewish community to thrive, Jews must both feel safe and be safe in our Jewish institutions.

The San Diego Jewish community is blessed to have so many friends and allies. Clergy and other leaders from all faiths have loudly condemned antisemitism and stand together during tough times. We hope their actions and words compel others to stand together in the face of baseless hatred. The level of antisemitism is a measure of sorts of our country’s social health. While the scourge of antisemitism will not dissipate anytime soon, we are all committed to creating a healthy local community in which Jewish life can flourish.

www.jewishinsandiego.org