Like many who currently live in Israel, I spent my childhood in a country where security around Jewish schools and synagogues was a familiar reality. Growing up in Manchester, England I remember the security, Community Security Trust (CST), and police outside my synagogue and school. It was normal to see so many people dedicated to our safety as a Jewish community.
However, upon making aliyah as a teenager, this once-familiar reality quickly became foreign. Here, although we have a multitude of concerns and daily worries which include being criticized on a daily basis for our very existence, the need for heightened security in Jewish communities doesn’t exist. In essence, here we get to live our Jewish life without fear although targeted by neighboring countries.
However, just a few days ago I found myself touring Italy and as a proud Jew touring the Jewish areas and synagogues. When entering, I was shocked as the armed guards with machine guns and airport-level security awaited me, a Jew who only wanted to respect my culture. My heart dropped as I thought about the history of Jews in Italy, and how even though we are 80 years since the Holocaust the Jewish people live so much in fear that armed guards are needed as protection.
How far have we come?
We have come so far and yet in Europe – the continent where 80 years ago Jews were the victims of genocide – today they still need armed guards outside their synagogues. How can it be that when celebrating the Jewish New Year communities have to put extensive efforts into their security?
It is so easy to overlook this simple fact but the reality is Jewish communities around the world are constantly at risk.
In 2020, the British government allocated approximately £14 million to bolster security measures for Jewish communities. Furthermore, recognizing the urgency of the matter, the Council of Ministers in the European Union implemented enhanced policies in 2021, affirming the collective responsibility to ensure the safety of Jewish communities across Europe. Moreover, in 2022, American Jewish communities demonstrated a remarkable dedication to their security, With a 42% increase in investment, Jewish federations raised an impressive $130m.
exclusively for reinforcing security infrastructure. These substantial financial commitments are proof of a global recognition of the need to fortify the security of Jewish communities and each and every Jewish community around the world has to ensure they have security measures.
Living in Israel, we find ourselves in a unique position. We live surrounded by other Jews who are committed to the State of Israel and doing so allows us to forget what the reality is for Jews abroad. As the High Holy Days approach it is even more important to feel this privilege we have when living in Israel. Instead of opening this new year filled with negativity to understand and be grateful for our Jewish country which allows us to attend synagogues worry-free.
With antisemitism on the rise around the world, this security is necessary and my only hope is that just like I as I child was used to this security, so too will all the Jewish children living aboard. May they never feel victimized for being Jewish but always be protected.
The writer is originally from Manchester, England, and a recent graduate of the Argov Fellows Program at Reichman University. She also has an Instagram page dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and education – @mymissiontoremember.