Solidarity with Jewish People
Content Warning // mentions of antisemitism, homophobia
Solidarity is very important to me as a Jew. In the Pirkei Avot (a compilation of Jewish ethical teachings, Rabbi Hillel wrote “al tifrosh min hatzibur” which translates to “do not separate yourself from the community”. The community in question could be any, but it is my obligation and my joy to stand with them. This concept of fighting for others is often referred to as “solidarity”. But what does solidarity actually mean? One's experience of solidarity depends on the communities one belongs to. To me, solidarity is individuals from different communities fighting alongside one another, and letting their differences unify instead of divide. It is also important that solidarity is not treated as a transaction. Only showing up for communities that have shown up for you is not an effective way to make the world a better place. When my rights as an LGBTQ+ person are at risk, I want my Jewish community to stand behind me. When my rights as a Jewish person are at risk, I want my LGBTQ+ community to stand behind me. In turn, but not transactionally, I want to stand behind any group of people that are marginalized.
We are witnessing a global rise in antisemitism. Only 0.2% of the world is Jewish, so when we are targeted by white supremacy groups, it’s scary. Sometimes it feels like our collective action is not enough since we are such a small group. Sound familiar? LGBTQ+ hate and antisemitism often parallel each other. We are painted in the media as “indoctrinators”, having a hidden agenda, and being a threat to “traditional” American values. The pink triangle is now a symbol of the queer liberation movement, but it originated in Nazi concentration camps. There being parallels between our struggles is not a unique phenomenon. Any two marginalized groups can find that their struggles for liberation often intersect. What we have in common lets us understand each other more. What we don’t have in common are opportunities to learn. If students of different religious affiliations, including Christians, in my school district come together with teachers to ask the administration to expand the recognized holidays, that is solidarity.
Your version of solidarity will look different depending on who you are. Nevertheless, standing behind the oppressed is extremely important. Sometimes, people don’t know how. Here are some ways you can stand in solidarity with Jewish people.
- Understand antisemitic conspiracies/dog whistles, and confront them when you can
- Challenge your own internal biases -Make sure Jewish members of your community are included
- Provide support for Jewish people who are victims of hate crimes
- Listen to us when we tell you our needs
- Remember that there are Jews of all ethnicities, races, genders, sexual orientations, etc. Make sure your fight against antisemitism is intersectional.
Don’t get held behind by the notion that “we don’t owe each other anything." We owe each other a lot. One of the key components of solidarity is understanding that we aren’t fighting for different things. We are fighting for the same goal: the liberation of all people. Don’t be a bystander. Don't separate yourself from the community.
Written by National Student Council Member, Amanda Acey