UPDATE TO THIS POST: I just learned that individual who threatened us online has been convicted! Guilty as charged…more information to follow!
We all know that anti-Semitism is on the rise. The number of anti-Semitic threats and incidents affecting Jews and Jewish institutions is overwhelming. As I shared on Yom Kippur, an anti-Semitic threat was posted on my Facebook page in February 2018. I contacted the Plantation Police Department, the FBI and Facebook and within a very short period of time the individual who made the threat was located. It turns out this individual also posted an online threat on social media directed at (my new friend) Qasim Rashid, a Muslim attorney and politician from Virginia.
The Torah teaches us: Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof – Justice, justice you shall pursue. (Deuteronomy 16:18) When we’re faced with hate, we can’t run away from it. We’re obligated to stand up to it and stop it using our individual voices, our communal strength and our legal system.
Late last night, I returned from Asheville, North Carolina where I testified in federal court against the individual who threatened me and Mr. Rashid. While there are some articles out there detailing some aspects of the case, at this point, I’m not able to share anything about the trial as it is still going on, but I do want you to know where I was and what I was doing. When the trial concludes, I will let you know more.
I want to take this opportunity to thank local and federal law enforcement for their swift response. And I want to thank my new friend, Qasim, for his bravery. I’m also grateful to the members of the jury who took the time to listen, learn, reflect and act. They had to process some pretty challenging stuff. Thank you.
I also want to wish Jack Steinman a Mazal Tov on becoming a Bar Mitzvah on Thursday. Because of the trial, I was not able to be there with him and his family to celebrate. Jack is a very special guy and I was heartbroken to miss his big day. I am not surprised to learn that he did a fantastic job.
The past few days have been exhausting on many levels. Taking a stand against hate and fulfilling the obligation to pursue justice isn’t easy. But, if my actions play just a small role in stopping the insanity out there, my trip to North Carolina will be worth it.
Rabbi Andrew Jacobs