After the Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre, Just How Worried Should We Be?

(Tablet) Jonathan D. Sarna - On Oct. 12, 1958, a nitroglycerine bomb equal to 50 sticks of dynamite tore apart the Temple, the oldest Reform Jewish congregation in Atlanta. The Confederate Underground claimed credit for the attack, but in the end, two Georgia juries failed to convict anyone. "In the twelve months before the bombing of the Temple in Atlanta," author Melissa Fay Greene recounts, "eleven sticks of dynamite were found at a temple in Charlotte; a synagogue in Miami and the Nashville Jewish Center were bombed on the same day; undetonated dynamite was found at a temple in Gastonia, North Carolina; a Jacksonville, Florida, synagogue was dynamited; and dynamite with a burnt-out fuse was found at Temple Beth-El in Birmingham, Alabama." In the mid-1960s, violent attacks against Jewish institutions resumed. On Dec. 20, 1965, in Yonkers, New York, 12 people, including 9 children and 3 adults, died in a suspicious fire that swept the Yonkers Jewish Community Center. In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1967, white supremacists bombed Temple Beth Israel and two months later returned to bomb the home of the temple's rabbi, Perry Nussbaum. Yet critical factors still distinguish America from other diaspora countries where Jews have lived. In America, Jews have always been able to fight back against anti-Semitism freely. American anti-Semitism has always had to compete with other forms of hatred of various groups that have periodically swept over the American landscape. To reach epidemic proportions, it must first crowd out a vast number of contending hatreds. Anti-Semitism is more foreign to American ideals than to European ones. George Washington, America's first president, conferred his blessing upon the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, in his famous letter to them in 1790. America's religious tradition is inhospitable to anti-Semitism and American politics resists anti-Semitism. The writer is Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, where he directs the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.

2018-11-13 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive