April 7th was Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, an annual day of remembering those killed in the holocaust. It is a somber day. At precisely 10am a siren is heard for 2 minutes throughout the entire country. Everyone stops what they’re doing and stands in silence. It’s a poignant ritual.

taking action

train to concentration camps

When I met with a colleague for lunch that day, he seemed agitated and out of sorts ~ this is a guy who breathes optimism. Once he finished telling me about his frustration with business, he was ready to discuss the simmering, below the surface issues that were upsetting him ~ the anger and hate he feels is on the rise.


When the economy is falling apart, people are losing their jobs and unable to pay bills, our communal consciousness catapults into a dark orbit fueled by fear, of not having enough, feeling hopeless and filled with rage.

Historically in difficult economic times, the tendency is to blame someone else. Fear and hate are like an out of control fire, annihilating everything in sight.

We’ve witnessed brutality in Cambodia, Viet Nam, Africa, India, Russia, Iraq, and Syria. In our own United States, we have done things that are reprehensible.

Since Tuesday, I’ve been walking around with a knot in the pit of my stomach because of the reminder that anti-Semitism is on the rise and gaining traction exponentially.

It’s scary – not just because I happen to be Jewish – but because I feel the world is in deep trouble.


Huffington Post reports that a survey found particularly high levels of anti- Semitism in three nations.

  • In Spain, where Jewish civic groups say Spaniards blame their economic woes on the country’s Jews, 72 percent of the population holds anti-Jewish views, compared with 64 percent in 2009.
  • In Hungary, 63 percent of the population holds anti-Semitic views, up from 47 percent in 2009.
  • In Poland, 48 percent show anti-Semitic attitudes, about the same as 2009.

The article goes on to say that attitudes toward Jews in the United States are far more positive. The most recent ADL study, completed in October, found 15 percent of the population holds anti-Semitic views. (and that’s considered positive?)


My father is a Veteran of WWII, fought at Normandy, and for a short time The Battle of The Bulge.

He committed his life helping to develop thriving Jewish Communities as the Executive Director of Jewish Community Centers wherever we lived – Cleveland, Dallas, Rochester, Montreal and Philadelphia.

Not once as a child or teenager did I experience anti-Semitism. Not once did I feel awkward about telling someone that I was Jewish- even in 1st grade in Dallas when I was the only Jewish kid in the class. Not once was I embarrassed about being Jewish – to the contrary, I was proud of it.

But things have changed dramatically. When my daughter went to Paris recently with her soon to be husband who is Israeli, I told them not to speak Hebrew, only English – words I never thought I’d be saying. European Jews are moving to Israel in large numbers spurred on by what they are witnessing in their countries – virulent anti-Semitism. I no longer feel comfortable traveling around Europe as I once did.

Living in 2 cosmopolitan cities, Tel Aviv and Philadelphia, I have been able to skirt the issue of anti-Semitism. When people make snide remarks about Jews and/or Israel, some of the time I choose to remain quiet -telling myself that it is more effective to work on being compassionate than saying what I believe. A piece inside of me says ‘What’s the difference?’ Another piece is scared of being ostracized.


We humans no longer have the luxury of burying our heads in the sand, living in denial, thinking ‘what a shame’ and then two seconds later allowing our brain to jump to whatever thought grabs our attention.

If we work together and make a commitment to speak out against hate crimes, brutality, torture, murder, and the systematic annihilation of a race or religion, we can transform earth into a place of love, kindness, and generosity.


1. SPEAK UP. Share your thoughts, concerns, questions, fear, and anger with others.

2. LISTEN INSIDE to your response when you read or hear about murder sprees – like in Syria or the Congo. Hate crimes against gays and African Americans. Emotional or physical abuse of children.

If you feel a dull to no emotional response to these situations, consider it an opportunity to dig in and work at getting those frozen feelings to melt and emerge. When I need to get in touch with my emotions, I find it helpful to close my eyes and visualize what I’ve read, heard or seen. I put myself into the story and explore how I’m surviving and the emotions I’m experiencing. It’s a good way of cracking through to some ‘I’d rather not feel’ emotions ~ fear, anger, sadness, futility and loss of hope.

3. PRACTICE COMPASSION – this is a phrase that has become a part of our Western lexicon. It is overused by writers, including me. What I’m suggesting here is that you practice ‘specific compassion’ – directed towards those who are the victims of reprehensible crimes ~ not towards those who are perpetrating the crimes – unless you choose to.
Colleagues from seminary have questioned why i didn’t include ‘practicing compassion for all’. Doing so was part of my ‘vow taking’ when I was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. I will explain why I chose to write #3 as I did in another post.

4. EDUCATE YOURSELF. With the internet at your fingertips, you can research any subject you want. Don’t know the facts about the mass slaughterings in Syria, women who are doused with gasoline and burned to death because they were raped, or the trafficking of young girls for prostitution? Learn about it.

5.STAY AWAKE – The words are easy. The doing is a lifetime of work. Few of us live a fraction of our lives AWAKE. When you find your face in a bowl of soup, sit up straight, shake it off, get focused on what’s important, and be present. Doing this is an act of spirituality

6.SEARCH OUT INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE SIMILAR VALUES AND ENERGY. The phrase ‘You are most like the 5 people with whom you are closest to’ has a lot of truth to it. Surround yourself by caring, ‘can do’, kind, non-judgmental people.

7.BE ACTIVE. Form monthly groups to talk about horrendous human issues. Create a social action committee. Finance a micro-business of someone who has survived the brutality of war.

8. SEND LOVE AND BLESSINGS to everything in the universe. Your energy and how you ‘be’ in this world has a significant impact on now and the future of our universe. As Ram Dass says – ‘Be Love’.

9.DEVELOP A RELATIONSHIP WITH A SURVIVOR . When the Viet Nam refugees immigrated to Philadelphia, I became close to a family who had survived brutality – most of which they chose not to discuss with me. We have maintained a close relationship for the past 25 years. To witness their transformation from being an oppressed family into thriving, kind, and successful human beings has been a privilege.

10.OBSERVE. There is an infinite amount of beauty and love in the world. But there is also cruelty and evil. Watch how people treat each other and what they say. You can gain a lot of information by doing so.

Allow these realities to become a part of your consciousness.

Without them, your life will be lacking in meaning. Acknowledging them is a critical element in living a life filled with deep spirituality.
Let them have a space in your soul to be heard.

Then manifest your beliefs through TAKING ACTION
The world needs for you to take action from a heartfelt place.

Are you up for the challenge?

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