Brattleboro Area Jewish Community

Congregation Shir Heharim

Yom Rishon, 28 Av 5777


Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” as 2016's International Word of the Year. What does this mean for BAJC, tucked away up here in Southern Vermont? How are we to think about the diminishing relevance of, and even outright hostility toward, truth, accuracy, and reality? What do Jews have to offer a world that appears bent on neutralizing and even eliminating truth as a causal element in our society?

While the phrase “the war on…” is applied to myriad subjects, from the real discrimination against women to the imagined assault on Christmas, a “war on reality” is indeed being waged. Jews are on the front line of this battle, in the crosshairs of those who find reality an annoying inconvenience in the way of their power and profits. This is nothing new. Holocaust denial has been the patently false groupthink of a lunatic fringe since the Shoah itself. It should be no surprise that as wild and virulent post-truth fictions move to dominate mainstream thought, Holocaust denial has seeped from a seedy sideshow to the main stage of far too many popular political manipulators and delusional media stars.

This same thinking is innovative as well. Professional conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, declared the Sandy Hook massacre a government fake. The President-elect of the United States of America fostered this folly, boasting to Jones, “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.” This is deeply unsettling at best.

Are all Jews heartless murderers of Palestinians? Are all Jews the best buddies of evangelical Christians working to prepare Jerusalem for the Christ’s imminent return? Are all Jews “libtards,” voting for “card-carrying communists” such as Clinton and Sanders? Are all Jews worldwide currency manipulators, pulling the strings behind every politician on the planet? Are Jews all of these contradictory falsehoods at once? To some, yes we are. Please do not try to apply reason in discussion with those who promulgate and believe these lurid fantasies.

What are we to do? One thing we cannot do is stand idly by and watch the summary execution of reality and truth (and their offspring, liberty and justice). We know all too well

where this leads. Nor can we indulge in unfettered anger and accusations. That is the stock in trade of the oppressing delusionists.

For better or worse, the high road has been left wide open. That is where we must focus our energies. No matter how out of style, we must redouble our efforts to be accurate and to honor truth and the verifiable facts of history. We cannot afford to leave them behind when they become difficult to bear. From colleges to Congress, from talking heads to graffiti, from social media to high society, we will have ample opportunity to correct the falsehoods of anti-Semitism. It is our business and responsibility to do so. We cannot count on others to advocate for us.

This is where BAJC comes in, and the purpose behind this stern but ultimately optimistic letter. We need to know and share with each other what is happening around us, be it good or bad. We cannot take steps to correct a problem we don’t know about. Likewise, we can’t praise and promote a success that is un-championed. Please contact me (or Cantor Kate, or any BAJC Board member) should you have news or encounter situations about which our BAJC family should know. You can reach me by phone/text at (802) 380-1369, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.." style="color: #800000;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By working together, holding fast to each other, educating each other and combining our talents, perspectives and efforts, we can have a positive effect on our immediate community and even beyond. But we have to actually take action. Yes, we need to think and talk, and then create concrete accomplishments. We need to make concerted and sustained efforts. Hope alone will not help. Prayer alone will not help. All the good intentions in the world will do nothing unless we actually put our full weight behind our words.