March 5, 2021
At the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, we are privy to acts of anti-Semitism that occur daily in the United States and around the world. It is critical that we stay informed so that we are in a constant state of readiness to protect the greater San Antonio Jewish community.
It can be exhausting, and certainly frustrating and disappointing, to receive this daily update. Each day, we hope that the email will not arrive – that a day with no act of hatred, discrimination, or vandalism has taken place around the globe. Sadly, since I have joined the Federation there has not been a day without this email. In fact, San Antonio has made it onto this national communiqué because of anti-Semitic events that have taken place right in our own backyard.
Unfortunately, antisemitism is as old as the Jewish people themselves. There have always been those who project their hatred, animosity, and dislike toward the entire people and distort facts and truth to “prove” their personal position.
It is from the text in this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, that Michelangelo drew the inspiration to sculpt “Moses”, the Renaissance sculpture housed in the Church of San Pietro, Rome, that continues to perpetuate one of the most longstanding anti-Semitic stereotypes, an alleged connection between Jews and Satan.
For those unfamiliar with this sculpture, Michelangelo used the overtly anti-Semitic translation of the text in Exodus 34:30 “his [Moses’] face had become radiant” (keren or panav) as “his face had become horned”. To be clear, just as the Hebrew word shalom has multiple meanings in English (“hello”, “goodbye”, and “peace”), so too does the word keren mean both “ray of light” and “horned”. It is not unusual for Hebrew words to have multiple meanings. Just as nobody would use “goodbye” upon meeting someone, so too would context clarify the difference between “horn” and “radiance”.
However, as we know, antisemitism comes in all shapes and sizes. There are the overt conspiracy theories, Nazi symbolism, and Holocaust deniers, and there are the covert BDS, anti-Zionism, and anti-Israel’s-existence positions that present more strategic and planful destruction to the Jewish people.
As the Jewish Federation, we are deeply proud of the work that our JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council) fulfills daily. Whether it is outreach to our diverse faith neighbors, building strong and sustainable relationships for mutual benefit; or the strong political activism on issues important to the Jewish community; or education about Israel and anti-Semitism to the greater San Antonio community, the JCRC is an essential tool to combat misinformation and support our safe and sustainable future in San Antonio.
If the JCRC is an essential jewel on the Jewish Federation’s crown of achievements, the HMMSA (Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio) is the crown jewel! For the Jewish community to eradicate hate and misinformation, we need to educate and inform. The museum has been doing an amazing job of this and continues to do so now under the Texas legislature’s Holocaust education mandate.
So, if you are faced with anti-Semitism please know that we are here to help and support you through your experience. We present at school board meetings, we communicate with city, state, and national officials, and we educate our neighbors. That is what the Jewish Federation does. We are…
HERE for you.
HERE for our community.
HERE for our Future.