The snow is falling outside my window during what we’re being told is the first of as many as three such storms over the next few days—days that will find us celebrating Purim. As we gather with family and friends to listen to the reading of the megillah and to celebrate the Jewish community of Shushan’s triumph over its enemies’ attempt to annihilate it, we do so in the midst of a seemingly unremitting wave of anti-Semitic threats and attacks against the Jewish community here—with no end in sight.
Over the past week, I have spoken with JCC executives from across the United States and Canada about their experiences responding to the most recent threats, about the remarkable support of and coordination with local law enforcement, and about the extraordinary assistance we are receiving from state and federal officials. To hear such pride and strength in the voices of my colleagues is nothing short of inspiring.
In Milwaukee, a visit by Gov. Scott Walker and a private meeting with local leadership resulted in a dramatic new promise of funding in support of security, and the commitment of a new presence by a state security official in residence at the JCC beginning the very next day.
In Orlando, the community rallied to the assistance of the Roth Family JCC, generating more than $400,000 to offset losses owing to concerns about safety among some of the families enrolled in its programs.
In Buffalo, hundreds of members of the community, of every faith, formed a circle of solidarity— a human chain—around the JCC building in a demonstration of their collective commitment to its safety and security.
Growing numbers of solidarity events in communities across the continent are drawing shoulder-to-shoulder support for our JCCs, and for all of the extraordinary work we do each and every day to build and evolve community, Jewish identity and pride, and the special commitment we have to one another. Through early childhood programs, cultural events, teen engagement, exercise programs, summer camp, the JCC Maccabi Games® and ArtsFest® and so much more, we continue to accomplish so many special things, every single day. The leadership and staff of our JCCs and the legions of members, friends and neighbors who come through our doors each day, provide a loud and clear declaration to all who are in earshot, that we will not be intimidated. We will not cower. We will not desist.
The town square of the North American Jewish community is proudly—and safely—open for business.
Wishing you and your family a chag Purim sameach, a very happy Purim, and a Shabbat shalom.
President and CEO