The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Maybe I am naïve, but I thought Tucson was a fairly tolerant community, respectful of our differences. That was until recent acts of antisemitic activity aimed at two local synagogues.
My assumption is that whoever targeted these places of Jewish worship did so out of their own frustration about something, but vandalism (possibly leading toward violence) doesn’t solve anything.
We are all “others.” I’m Jewish and white but you may be a Black male Muslim or a Latina or gay or someone who doesn’t have one identity, but several. I may not walk in your shoes, but I try to have empathy for you.
Having grown up in Tucson and attending public schools gave me the opportunity to see “others” as just fellow human beings.
There were times that I was the “other,” such as when my teachers in elementary school asked me, as the lone Jew, to decorate the Hanukkah bulletin board instead of asking or assigning students of different faiths to learn about the holiday by helping me, or when my parents and I had to argue many times with school administrators to allow me excused absences on the Jewish high holy days (sometimes unsuccessfully.)
In the Jewish religion, there is a concept called “tikkun olam” which loosely translated means “repair the world” and is the practice of pursuing social change through acts of justice and kindness — not just to fellow Jews but to society as a whole.
I was brought up in a family that practiced this by stepping forward to tackle social issues in our community through volunteerism and philanthropy. Do you think that the vandals have a family member who may have been served by United Way or a child that needed the services of Banner Diamond Children’s or received a scholarship to attend the YMCA summer camp?
Please, next time that you hear someone make an antisemitic remark, or contemplate an act of vandalism or violence, remind them of the contributions that Jews in Tucson have made to make our community better for everyone.
There is no place for antisemitism in our community or intolerance of any kind.