DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — As millions of Jewish Americans prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, people are taking this time to rally around Jewish communities and condemn antisemitism.
Rav Aubrey Glazer is the Rabbi at Beth Abraham Synagogue in Dayton.
“It is a wonderful community of people who are caring, compassionate, critical, and curious about their Judaism,” Rav Aubrey explained.
Like many leaders in the Jewish community, Rav Aubrey has been watching the rise in antisemitism over the last few years, even seeing incidents here in the Miami Valley.
“It troubles me when I see, for example, neighboring communities here within the vicinity where Sunday morning sermons start out with the Jews hate us. To me, that’s just a foundational problem,” Rav Aubrey said.
2021 set a record for the number of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. According to the Anti-Defamation League, which audits these incidents annually, there were more than 2,700 reports of assault, harassment, and vandalism. The group expects that number to remain high for 2022.
Rav Aubrey believes social media plays a major role in spreading antisemitism and misinformation about Judaism.
“I know that there are a lot of opportunities that we could use in terms of being able to use social media, to use comedy, to use music, to use entertainment as a force for good in the world. I’m a very strong advocate in the power of the arts to be able to do that. It profoundly, profoundly disappoints me that intelligent and talented people in the entertainment world use their platforms to disseminate and to normalize hatred. It’s really disappointing to me,” Rav Aubrey said.
He said a large part of the problem is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the history of Judaism, and how it intersects with other religions. He believes education is one of the most important ways communities can combat the spread of hate.
“I think both within the religious world, within the Abrahamic faiths, there are systemic challenges and problems in terms of the way certain religious communities teach sacred texts that at their roots, sometimes, if they’re not read critically, can spread anti-Semitism both within Christianity and within Islam. Two religions that I completely honor and support,” Rav Aubrey said.
Rav Aubrey is an advocate for interfaith work, and calls on people to learn more about not only Judaism, but also their own faith. He said there are resources available to answer any questions people might have, like the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton.
Cathy Gardner is the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton. She said along with education, people need to have the courage to call out hatred within their own circles.
“Instead of being a bystander, we become upstanders. And anybody who faces intolerance or injustice should follow whatever characteristics they have as an individual to fight the intolerance or injustice that exists,” Gardner said.
While there is still work to be done to stop the spread of antisemitism, Rav Aubrey hopes to inspire people of all faiths to dig deeper in their own traditions, and spread a message of hope.
“We can focus on what’s broken. And there is a lot that’s broken in the world, but Judaism is telling us that our responsibility is to do something about it, to be part of the solution and not to be part of the problem, that we have the opportunity and the ability, each of us in our own ways, to be able to bring some repair to this broken world,” Rav Aubrey explained.