What’s it like when it comes to being a Jewish member of the media in Columbia, South Carolina? It’s not really a big deal—except when something heinous like the massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh takes place—a synagogue that just so happens to share a name with one in our local community. Oh, and one that I’m a very-involved member at….well, people come calling and want you to serve as one of the spokespeople for Judaism in your community.
I’ve been very open about my Judaism in Columbia for 24 years here. For one thing, I’m proud of who and what I am. For another, I believe there are a lot of people who have misconceptions about Jewish people and I’ve always wanted to make sure people know we’re not too different than anyone else.
What happened in Pittsburgh is heart-breaking. It’s brutal. It’s Mother Emanuel again. It’s impossible to consider that a house of worship can be the location for an attack and its congregants can be the specific targets of the massacre. In this case, a Jewish synagogue. Of course it hits very close to home for me—but believe it or not, it’s not terribly different than the feelings I had after Mother Emanuel. You might internalize it a bit more because you worship at a synagogue in your city—with the same name. Otherwise, I just think of innocent and beautiful people congregating together during a holy time and being gunned down simply because of skin color or religion.
I’m not the de-facto spokesperson for the Columbia, South Carolina Jewish community. I am however, someone who can proudly put this emphatic message out to anyone reading this….
THIS HURTS. It hurts badly. But, Jewish people have been through this level of Antisemitism for generations. We’ve dealt with a Holocaust and genocide. We’ve dealt with slavery and famine. We’ve dealt with persecution and hatred. We’re still here. We’re not going anywhere. We are a people who live with love in our hearts. We are a people who open our arms and our houses of worship to the world—we will always welcome you in. We are a people who strive for peace and have a deep love of G-d.
So there is pain—but, there is resilience. Some will try to politicize this. Many will. All I can say is that this is a horrible massacre—but nothing—NOTHING will change in the eyes of Jews. We believe in the good of people and will give you our love and kindness until you do something to no longer deserve it—and then, well, let’s hope it doesn’t get to “then”. Shalom!