An anonymous donor has offered to actualize Rabbi Ephraim Silverman’s wish to “transform darkness into light” by contributing 100 mezuzahs to Jewish homes and businesses in East Cobb lacking the holy scrolls and cases on their doorposts. The donor offered his gift just about a week after Silverman’s Chabad of Cobb synagogue, and its East Cobb community, were shocked by approximately a dozen antisemites who demonstrated in front of the synagogue with their hateful messages during a Shabbat service.
The offer to donate the expensive kosher parchment-filled ornaments reflect Silverman’s repeated pleas to, in effect, find the bright side to the horrendous display that prompted the non-Jewish East Cobb community to hold a supportive interfaith service at a church just days after the event.
“We want to encourage a positive message here,” Silverman told the AJT. “I think we too often have a kneejerk reaction to antisemitism” that is full of outrage and condemnation. He said he prefers that the responding message be more empowering and uplifting. “The non-Jewish media has picked up on the message.”
Silverman said he reached out to the other East Cobb congregations of Etz Chaim and Kol Emeth to spread the news of the mezuzah offer. The only condition for someone procuring a free mezuzah from Chabad of Cobb is to give it to someone else who doesn’t have one. “You need to share light with other people,” he said.
As focused as Silverman is about spreading the light, he doesn’t ignore the darkness of the past. In an article he authored for Israeli website Ynetnews.com, he wrote, “Many of my relatives were gassed and burned in the Nazi death camps and seeing this despicable rally outside a Jewish house of worship in 2023 was extremely disturbing.”
But when he was talking about the mezuzah project, he noted, “There’s so much less antisemitism now than in the 1960s, and if someone attacked Jews in the shtetl 150 years ago, no non-Jews came” to show support.
Yet, in the wake of the late June display of Nazi flags, Silverman pointed out that he had received “thousands” of emails, cards, letters, phone calls, and donations expressing support from the non-Jewish community, some of which he shared on social media.
“I am heartbroken at the antisemitic actions taken in your front yard, and in my own driveway. We in Cobb will not tolerate this. We have your back! Thank you for everything you do for our community.”
“I am so sorry about how many at Chabad were pressured, harassed, and/or made to feel unsafe on Saturday. I just heard about it, and I feel sick, not only that people feel such hatred today, but that they are comfortable with targeting anyone as they did you. Please use this donation for whatever purpose you wish and know that your goyish neighbors in East Cobb are outraged on your behalf.”
“Keep up the good work and know your neighbors in East Cobb support you. I hate what I’ve been seeing on the news. We stand with you.”
“I’m so sorry about the antisemitic protest. Thank you for all you do for the Jews of Marietta and Cobb.”
“I’ve never written anything like this before. I feel awkward, actually. But I guess I just want to say, I’m a Christian and you’re Jewish, and I don’t care.”
“It is with great sadness that I read of the protest outside your synagogue. It is sad to see that people still hold these views in 2023. Please realize that there are many of us who are not Jewish and yet stand by you completely.”
“I’ve seen the videos of people protesting outside today. Please know that you have neighbors in East Cobb stand with you, against hate and extremism.”
Moreover, Silverman said, several Christians have volunteered their services, including ex-military civilians who have offered to stand outside the synagogue to protect the worshipers on Saturdays. “Ninety-nine percent of our population are respectful, loving, kind and want only the best,” he said, pointing to the fact that it was the Christian community that immediately offered to organize the supportive services for the East Cobb Jewish community. “The message was positive from the beginning.”
He added that although he was unable to attend that service, he sent a statement to be read there and he met with the pastor of the East Cobb United Methodist Church where the interfaith service was held just days after the handful of hateful antisemites paraded in front of the Chabad of Cobb.
Silverman also noted that in addition to the messages he received from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia’s U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, and many state officials, he also received a note from a member of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset.
Likud Party Knesset Member Dan Illouz wrote, “Antisemitism is a terrible prejudice that has persisted for far too long, and it is essential that we stand together to combat it. I believe it is vital to speak out against any form of discrimination, including antisemitism.”
The mezuzahs are “in hand and ready to be picked up,” Silverman said. A rabbi will be available to help post the mezuzahs and perform the blessing on them, he added, suggesting that people call the Chabad office at 770-565-4412.
Places to purchase Mezuzahs
Fragile Gifts, www.fragilegifts.com, (404) 257-1323
Judaica Corner, www.facebook.com/judaicacorneratl, (404) 636-2473
Pollwood Creations, www.pollwood.com, (678) 642-8824
Contact your local synagogue to see if they have a Judaica store