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Niles Goldstein: Antisemitism On The Rise

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With antisemitism once again rearing its ugly head, Rabbi Niles Goldstein looks at what Jewish communities and their allies can do about it.

I’m the rabbi of the only synagogue in Napa Valley, a region famed for its vineyards and wine, natural beauty and exceptional farm-to-table cuisine. But even here in this bucolic setting, I’ve seen swastikas on barn doors, anti-Jewish propaganda in parks and on doorsteps, and heard conspiratorial whispers about George Soros and other “elites” pulling the levers of power and controlling the economy.

Antisemitism is alive and well in this country, and it’s on the rise. In recent weeks, we’ve heard anti-Semitic words and tropes from celebrities, professional athletes and politicians.

These are challenging times, and challenging times often lead to upticks in antisemitism. As Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, said recently, “When systems fail, whether it’s the government or the markets or anything else, leaders often look for someone to blame.”

And we Jews have historically played that role of scapegoat.


For that reason, Jews need to build alliances. I’m a member of Napa’s Interfaith Clergy Council, and we’ve always worked together on issues of common concern. In cities nationwide, religious leaders and their congregations have taken strong stands against antisemitism, and they should continue to work in collaboration and solidarity. I’ve seen the fruits of those efforts firsthand.

Living in a relatively small town, I’ve also learned that a strong relationship with government officials and law enforcement is vital. Hate crimes are crimes, and we need the local police and government to be involved in enforcing laws meant to protect us all from harm. Our local police chief and I are in regular contact via text and phone about potential threats to the Jewish community, and Napa PD has provided multiple trainings for my congregation.

Antisemitism has been around for as long as Jews have been around, and it’s probably never going to go away. That’s a sad and troubling reality. But together, we can work to expose it, contain it and minimize its destructive effects. That is my hope and prayer as we enter the holiday season.

With a Perspectives, I’m Rabbi Niles Goldstein

Niles Goldstein is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Napa, and the author of several books.

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