I have always felt a strong connection to my Jewish roots in culture and tradition. I grew up learning about, and understanding, the struggle the Jewish people endured throughout history to fight for survival and the freedom to practice Judaism. This has fostered in me a profound sense of responsibility to ensure our religion, culture and traditions lived on. October 7th shook me to my core. It was as if I was transported back to Eastern Europe in the 1930s and 40s – Never Again was here.
While I have had my own isolated experiences with antisemitism and knowledge of others’ experiences as well, the volume I began to see emerging all over the world has been a terrifying reality. How is it that the world is, once again, supporting terrorism and calling for the demise of the Jewish people instead of rallying around us? The events of October 7th and everything that has transpired since is a reminder that we need to stand together to fight for Holocaust education, the right for Jewish students to feel safe on college campuses, the right to feel safe in our daily lives, and, ultimately, the right to exist. This time of year, as we prepare to celebrate Hanukkah with our friends and loved ones, we will carry the victims, the hostages, and the survivors of October 7th in our hearts. As we do this, we will remember how the Maccabee’s fought and persevered and how we will do the same to guarantee a future for our children – may our light always shine bright!
Ilyssa Klein is an account manager for the Atlanta Jewish Times.