You do not need to know anyone directly affected by the October 7 massacre to feel the enormity of those events keenly and deeply.
For many, it has rekindled a feeling that normally lurks in the very back of the mind — that antisemitism is a light sleeper and can be awoken at any time, often with devastating consequences. Indeed, the arc of progress is not linear and the veneer of civilisation is thin.
Paradoxically, the most poignant thing I have witnessed has also been the most inspiring and most hopeful. Jews are worried.
They worry about taking the Tube, about wearing their Star of David, about going to the office where all too often their Diversity Equality and Inclusion teams have sent out statements “contextualising” October 7.
They worry about their kids in Jewish schools, about their kids in non-Jewish schools and at universities. And it’s not hard to see why given the countless number of antisemitic incidents that have been reported. So what is there to be inspired or hopeful about?
JLC-sponsored chanukiah lighting ceremony in Trafalgar Square, December, 2023 (Credit: Sensation Band)
What’s new is the realisation that complacency is foolish. Living in a free society where we are protected as Jews is not a given. We must always be vigilant and work to defend ourselves. Many now realise this: Jews, those who are Jew-ish, and those who care about the Jews and who realise that what starts with the Jews doesn’t end with the Jews.
I go into 2024 optimistic that we can harness this energy and the goodwill. We will find more ways to partner with our allies, to strengthen the resolve of the community, and to give purpose to those wanting to give back.
Claudia Mendoza is the Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council