Robbie Friedmann’s 2021 Rosh Hashanah Message
Rosh HashanahCommunity

Robbie Friedmann’s 2021 Rosh Hashanah Message

Read community insights, perspectives and opportunities seen as we enter into the 5782/ 2021 New Year.

Robbie Friedmann is the founding director of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange and professor emeritus of criminal justice at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

Jews and Community Safety in 5782

As 5781 is coming to an end I pray that 5782 will be a better year. We have experienced an unprecedented disaster on a global scale. For a short while it seemed to be under control, but the hoped-for comeback is facing the fourth variant wave. News of hospitals flooded with dying patients are alarming, again. If that is not bad enough, the calls to “reform police” have backfired, with police budget cuts, resignations, lower arrests, and a spike in violent crime not seen in years. The sense of personal safety and community safety has worsened this past year.

For Jews there is another virus that adds a worrisome dimension. Old blood libels have resurfaced, as Jews were blamed for COVID-19 and then for the defensive operation in Gaza, after Hamas launched more than 4,000 rockets targeting civilian centers in Israel. The Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) reported that in 2020-21 there were 37 anti-Israel resolutions in student governments, half of them submitted after the Hamas attacks. On 152 campuses, student groups and faculty associations issued anti-Israel declarations, and the AMCHA Initiative reported 472 cases of anti-Semitism on campuses.

So as the country is getting back to school and to work, the exponential infection rate of the Delta variant, the alarming increase in anti-Semitic incitement and violence against Jews, coupled with a weakening of the deterrent power of police and of police capabilities to provide public safety, are all bringing back days reminiscent of the 1930s. Add to this the mortal threat of Iran approaching nuclear capabilities and we are getting closer to a perfect storm.

Against that backdrop there are some encouraging signs with The Abraham Accords. It is heartwarming to see the Sharaka Gulf-Israel Center for Social Entrepreneurship ( promoting social and cultural ties in addition to economic ones. This year those relationships should pave the road to a better future, but the Jewish community everywhere needs to be far more proactive in addressing the dangerous rise of anti-Semitism.

Shana Tova.

Dr. Robbie Friedmann is the founding director of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange.

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