Can you believe it’s already the ’80s? As 5779 on the Hebrew calendar draws to a close, the Journal looks back at some of the year’s most memorable Jewish news and events on the North Shore.
It has not been an easy year, as anti-Semitism continues to rise both in the community and around the globe. Swastikas and other hate graffiti was found in in Boxford, Brookline, Framingham, Malden, Marblehead, Melrose, Newton, Needham, Reading, Sharon, Revere, and several other communities. Anti-Semitism and sentiment against Israel – notably the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement – continued to grow on college campuses, with UMass Amherst convening a controversial panel featuring anti-Israel activists.
Outside Massachusetts, anti-Semitism turned deadly. In October, a gunman killed 11 worshippers and injured seven at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the worst act of violence ever committed against American Jews. In April, on the last day of Passover, a gunman killed one and injured three at a Chabad in Poway, Calif.
In May, Chabad Rabbis Nechemia Schusterman and Sruli Baron were harassed by a driver in a pickup truck in Peabody. In July, Holocaust denial flyers were found posted outside Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead.
Yet light shone through the darkness. The community, along with local politicians and clergy, showed up in force to denounce all forms of anti-Semitism. Jewish life went on. There were dreidels on Hanukkah and seders on Passover. A new mikvah opened in Swampscott. Over 100 teens experienced the magic of Israel on Y2I. Galas, concerts, tournaments, and races raised money for Jewish institutions and honored community heroes.
North Shore Jews served food to the homeless, planted seeds in synagogue gardens, and marched in LGBTQ Pride parades. Kids went to camp, and graduated from school – a Jew was even named valedictorian at the College of the Holy Cross. Copies of the Jewish Journal continued to travel around the world.
Hundreds of local Jews poured into their synagogues the first Shabbat after the Pittsburgh attacks to show that they weren’t afraid. May that spirit last as a new year begins.