January 2, 2020
Five people stabbed inside a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration in suburban New York. Four people fatally shot inside a kosher supermarket in Jersey City. Dozens of Orthodox Jews brutally assaulted on the streets of Brooklyn as they walked alone or with family and friends. Suddenly, the safety of U.S. Jews is in question.
American Jews have sensed this danger looming for a while. In its landmark survey of American Jews in October, AJC found that nearly 9 out of 10 respondents believe antisemitism is a problem in the U.S.; 8 out of 10 believe the issue has worsened in the last five years. Nearly a third said they avoid “publicly wearing, carrying, or displaying things that might help people identify” them as Jewish.
Faced with the dilemma of choosing between discretion and defiance, AJC chose the latter by designating January 6 as #JewishandProud Day. On that day, members of the Jewish community, along with Jewish community allies, were invited to stand up and show off their Jewish pride. Within a day of launching the initiative, hundreds of people around the world had shared what being Jewish means to them and how they planned put their Judaism on display on January 6. Responses came from Jews who are secular and Orthodox, by choice and by birth, in Latin America and in Norway. And, of course, in the U.S.
Here are some of their stories, edited for clarity.
‘I will not forsake them’
I am proud to be the daughter of a Refusenik, the wife of the son of a sole Holocaust survivor in an entire massacred family, and the mother of three Jewish children whose very existence is an act of resistance!
– Julia F., Suffolk County, New York
I am the sole surviving child of my Holocaust survivor parents—my father was a sole survivor of a family of 35. My mother lost all but a sister. I am a proud Jew who loves G-d, Torah, Israel, and his family. And I will not forsake them!
– Morris W., Rochester, New York
I am proud to be a part of the Jewish people with our 4,000-year history, but whose focus is always looking forward …I am proud to be a part of the Jewish people who lived in exile and under persecution for nearly 2,000 years and now, having established the State of Israel, works (and sometimes struggles) to make real our values in a complicated world. Finally, I am proud to be a member of the Jewish people who worship God as the one and only Creator of the Universe, and see ourselves as God's partner in renewing the process of creation each day.
– Tikvat I., Montgomery County, Maryland
I’m proud to belong to a fighting and resilient people! I’m a fighting Jew and I will always support the troubled communities around the world.
– V. Beltran, Portugal
‘Something that I would not ordinarily do’
My ancestry indicates that I have only one Jewish grandmother indicated as: “Unknown German Jew.” I will celebrate her life by wearing a T-shirt with the word “Shalom” in Hebrew on the front of it!
– Mary Lou K., Rochelle, Illinois
On Monday, in my exercise class at the Charlotte, N.C. Jewish Community Center I'll wear a T-shirt that I bought in Israel that says ‘love’ in Hebrew. After that, I'll wear my Magen David that I received for my bat mitzvah - so many years ago - the first bat mitzvah on Staten Island! Here in Charlotte, we have a wonderful Jewish campus - Shalom Park - with a Jewish Community Center, a Reform and a Conservative temple, and a Jewish day school. My husband and I support the two temples and the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte. Being Jewish means being proud of your heritage and a willingness to support and practice Judaism.
– Linda L., Charlotte, N.C.
I will be wearing a yarmulke, something that I would not ordinarily do.
– Samuel S., San Francisco, California
On the 6th of this month I will walk all over the city with my big kippah and I will speak all day with everybody only in Hebrew [so they will] ask what kind of language that is. I will explain to them the importance of being Jewish and the pride of the Hebrew language for the people of Israel.
– Elias B., Venezuela
I'm keeping my Hanukkah light on my balcony until January 6.
– Bernardo C., Brazil
Amid rising antisemitism, Jews around the world are marking #JewishandProud Day on Jan 6. Use the hashtag, wear something Jewish, post a pic with a #JewishandProud sign, share why you're proud or, if you're not Jewish, share why you stand with Jews.https://t.co/h0t9XKUmLH— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) December 31, 2019
‘We not only survive, but flourish’
The contribution of the Jewish population to human civilization has been more disproportionate to its size than the contribution of any other group.
–Maury M., Plano, Texas
Being Jewish to me means that I am part of a special culture, religion, and community, and one that I have the responsibility to maintain and protect. No matter where I have been in the world, I have felt connected and comfortable around other Jewish people. We share an understanding, warmth, and values that are unique to our community, which I am so thankful for and proud to be part of. I am also proud of all the accomplishments and contributions that Jewish people have made throughout history. We make up less than 0.2% of the population, but over 20% of Nobel Laureates. Israel is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, the only democracy in the Middle East, and has one of the strongest militaries. From Albert Einstein to Modigliani, we are gifted artists, scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. We are bright and creative. We think differently. We not only survive, but flourish, no matter where we are. I am so proud to be Jewish.
– Danielle G.
‘Badge of honor’
Being Jewish is being part of one large family, connected through our heritage, our culture, our love of G-d, and our tradition. Wherever I travel, when meeting other Jews, there is an instant connection with something bigger than ourselves.
– Wendy F., Seminole County, Florida
Being Jewish is lifechanging. Not only does it mean a sense of community, but it means a sense of belonging. To me, the mitzvah of making the world a better place is at my core and lives in my soul. No matter how hard the world may get and be, I know I must wake up every day to put more love into the world, and I wear this as a badge of honor.
– Mary K., Memphis, Tennessee
I am proud to be Jewish because of the strong values we have that reach far beyond the Jewish people. We believe in repairing the world, standing up for the rights of others, and inclusion, acceptance, and tolerance of all people.
– Pam F., San Diego County, California