CAJE: Fighting Antisemitism Through Education
Posted on 11/04/2022 @ 06:00 AM
It’s no secret that antisemitism is on the rise, both nationally and worldwide.
As Yair Rosenberg recently wrote in his blog Deep Shtetl, “Every single year since the FBI began recording hate-crime statistics, Jews have been the target of more anti-religious attacks in the U.S. than all other religious groups combined.”
On the one hand, we have celebrities like Kanye West/Ye managing to spout anti-Jewish tropes from both the racist world of white supremacy and the racist world of Louis Farrakhan (yemach sh’mo/ may his name be erased)— quite a feat.
On the other hand, we have American politicians who will say and do anything to win, including using dog whistles and outright statements of antisemitism.
And on another hand (note how we have to add “hands” when it comes to this topic), we have Jewish students afraid to identify themselves as Jews on college campuses, lest they get harassed by radical progressives about believing in their right to a homeland, a value that has been integral to Judaism for the last 2500 years, at least.
Here we are again.
We thought America would be the exception to our usual history. And I pray with all my heart it will be.
The great American Jewish historian Salo Baron wrote in 1953:
A communicable disease…can be combated not only by fighting the germs, but also by strengthening the resistance of the body under attack.
Jews can do very little about fighting anti-Semitism… But they certainly can go on strengthening the morale of their own people.
I think we have come a long way since 1953, and so we can do a lot to fight antisemitism.
Jews aren’t as powerless, scared and hesitant about their place in society as they were seventy years ago.
Thank G!D, we have Federations, AJC, ADL and a whole alphabet of organizations that support and defend Jewish life at the highest ranks of government, here and abroad.
CAJE fights antisemitism but our mission is different.
What CAJE does is (to paraphrase Baron above) “strengthen the resistance of the body under attack”—in other words, strengthen the morale of our own people through education.
Have you ever wondered why, when given the chance to escape persecution throughout history, our ancestors repeatedly chose to remain Jews in spite of it?
Were they stupid? Blind to their own pain? A nation of masochists?
None of the above.
They simply loved Judaism and being Jews too much to throw it aside. They found too much of value in it.
As Rabbi Abraham Neuman put it: “Jewish institutions of learning are the laboratories where weapons are forged to repel anti-Semitism…”
CAJE is just such an institution of learning.
Our mission is three-fold:
- to promote quality Jewish learning and identity-building opportunities throughout Miami;
- to strengthen the capacity of Jewish organizations to deliver engaging and enriching educational programs;
- to serve as a catalyst for connecting Jews of all ages to their rich heritage.
Yes, it’s important, as Baron put it, to fight the germs that bring on disease. We can’t afford to ignore the antisemitic haters, nor take for granted those who are upstanders.
Thank G!D, we have allies in the non-Jewish world like Tyler Perry who just wrote on Instagram a kind of rebuttal to Kanye in which he told his mother’s personal story of working at a JCC, noted that the NAACP was founded by Jews (among others), remembered how two Jews were murdered for trying to help African Americans vote, acknowledged the many Jews who had helped him in his career, and called on people to refuse hate.
CAJE’s mission is to help educate Jews of every age to love Judaism and find so much of value in it, that they can’t bear to throw it aside, even when the going gets rough.
To (davka) quote Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
Judaism, Jewish wisdom and Jewish values were the “why” that enabled our ancestors to bear their “how.”
This explains why our ancestors made the choices they made, enabling us today to still be living as Jews.
Education, finding value in Judaism, understanding “the why,”—these are CAJE’s ways of fighting antisemitism.
And these are the measures we will need to invest more resources into, so we can strengthen our people for the (sadly) difficult days ahead.
If you would like to support CAJE in its efforts to fight antisemitism through education, please consider being a contributor to our Kadima Major Giving Campaign and increase the number of people our programs can reach by contacting Debbie Brodie-Weiss, CAJE’s Director of Development at email@example.com