Terrorism and Antisemitism Abroad Hits Home: A Jewish Mom Reflects

Note from Vermont Moms: the following essay about the recent terrorist attacks in Israel discusses a conflict that is age-old, incredibly complex, and vitally important for many, many people, including those of both Jewish and Muslim faiths. The ongoing violence between Israelis and Palestinians has been marked by massive loss and destruction. Vermont Moms grieves for the senseless loss of lives and the continued violence which is likely to get much worse before it gets better.  It is beyond the scope of Vermont Moms to even attempt to address this convoluted entanglement, but we can allow thoughtful and genuine dialog, we can humanize the grief and loss, and we can share one individual’s lived experience. This is not intended to be about Middle Eastern politics. The author does not express her views on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. She is not dismissing or minimizing the tragedy for either group. She is sharing her lived experience. She is grieving and holding space for both groups while reeling from the horror of this terrorist attack.  If you are interested in furthering this measured discussion, please contact [email protected] about Guest Authoring for Vermont Moms.

Author’s note: The Jewish people are one nation with one heart, and we all share a part of the same soul. Our joy and pain are felt collectively. Throughout history, Jews have always persevered. We are united and strong, and the toughest times only unite us more. We trust that everything will turn out for the best. We are not scared but we mourn senseless deaths and violence. Our faith and trust in G-d will always prevail.

Imagine if a huge group of Vermont families, out celebrating at a music festival, joyously dancing in the beautiful Green Mountains were attacked and murdered? 

What if at the same time, innocent people in the surrounding communities were also massacred by the hundreds? What if the women and children were kidnapped, raped, and then murdered in front of their loved ones?

Hundreds murdered. Thousands wounded. The deadliest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust.  

This happened. Not here. In Israel. Every single Jew around the world is watching and we are acutely aware of the violence and antisemitism that are growing. We know that this attack could have happened to any of us, had we been in Israel. Why? Because these innocent festival-goers were targeted and massacred because they are Jews. 

young Jewish boy smiles

This mass murder in Israel, just days ago, has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with terrorism. Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, seeks to destroy the State of Israel and all Jews. 

Did you know that the Hamas terrorists attacked people at a music festival and then went to the surrounding communities and continued to massacre hundreds of innocent people, obliterating entire families? That they took some victims’ phones, called their parents, and made the parents watch the rape, torture, and murder of their children and grandchildren? Or, that one of the terrorists recorded these atrocities and posted them to social media for the victims’ families to see? 

Every single Jew around the world is angry, in pain, hurt, sad, and living with some level of fear. 

We have been through this before. Persecution is not new to Jews. Unfortunately, it is a part of who we are as a nation. 

Jews are familiar with anti-Jewish violence and rhetoric, and antisemitism, which fuels ongoing waves of violence and persecution. 

It seems as though everyone else in the world is used to anti-Jewish violence and antisemitism, too. Maybe that’s why the rising antisemitism in the United States appears to have been accepted by the greater population. In actuality, antisemitism is gaining hold all around the world, and only Jews seem to be able to see it and willing to fight against it. 

Jewish mom with a pre-teen daughter and a toddler in a stroller at an outdoor cafe

The evidence is there. According to the Anti-Defamation League,

“In 2022, there were 3,697 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States. This is a 36% increase from the 2,717 incidents tabulated in 2021 and the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979. This is the third time in the past five years that the year-end total has been the highest number ever recorded.”

I know many will say they don’t think that percent increase is accurate. I know many will claim cluelessness. Many will protest that they are not antisemitic. 

The numbers tell a sobering story. As a Jew, I am not surprised by this data.

Jews are exhausted. We are tired of defending ourselves from the media. We are tired of defending who we are as a people and what we believe. We are tired of defending our inherent right to live and exist in peace. We are tired of worrying if our children will be safe, and if our synagogues, celebrations, and events will be invaded by a gunman, G-d forbid. This is happening in the United States. This week, my children’s school has taken extra security measures. This is not a remote happening. This impacts all Jews. 

We sympathize with Palestinian’s struggles and their loss of innocent life. We want peace. We are tired of people thinking we don’t. We are tired of explaining that Hamas and Palestinians aren’t one and the same. We are tired of explaining that Israeli politics don’t define the Jewish people just as American politics don’t define all Americans. We are tired of being hated for supporting the only Jewish country in the world since biblical times, even if we don’t all support everything the Israeli government does. We are tired of explaining how it’s okay to support Jews and fight against antisemitism and not support Israel. 

We are exhausted and, frankly, we are scared. The silence around us is deafening.

Speaking for myself, and reflecting on what I hear from other Jewish people, right now, as you are reading this, Jewish lives are at risk and the trends are only getting worse. Jews feel unheard, unseen, and unprotected. 

Jewish schools, synagogues, and events internationally and nationally, including in Vermont, are having to ramp up security to protect themselves from emboldened anti-Semites which we know all too well does happen. Why do I need to explain all of this over and over?!?

I’m so tired.

But here’s the thing, folks. This is happening and I am not seeing any significant local, national, or global response. I hear mostly silence.

And I know: 

  • People are afraid to speak up. 
  • People are confused about what’s happening due to media bias and the altercation of truths.
  • People don’t know how to speak up. 
  • People are afraid to say the wrong thing.
Jewish boys play

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

Martin Luther King Jr


Let me tell you: You cannot say the wrong thing if you denounce terrorism and support victims. You CAN support Jews without supporting the war. There should be no shame in that. 

Do you ever ask yourself the question, “Who would I have been during the Holocaust?” 

Would you be helping Jewish families or would you be a bystander maintaining your comfortable status quo?

Think about it. 

What are you doing to help now?

For those who do support Jewish people unequivocally- thank you from the bottom of every Jewish heart. I am confident I can speak for all of us when I say that. We appreciate you more than words can say. You help us keep pushing forward and stay strong. 

One thing I keep going back to is the fact that no American had to justify why ISIS’ attacks on United States citizens were terrorism. 

No one questioned that Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack was a terrorist attack.

No one begrudged or protested the vigils mourning the devastating loss of American lives after the 9/11 attacks. No one said you couldn’t mourn the American victims of 9/11 without mourning the loss of Saudi life as well.  

I will mourn for Jewish lives lost. I will mourn this massacre. I also hold space for Palestinians, and for the complexity of this situation, because that isn’t at odds with mourning Jewish lives.

I am willing to bet most, if not every, Jewish person has wondered since the Holocaust, “Where could I hide? Who would protect me? Who would protect my children? Who would help me?”

I find myself asking these same questions in my head today. Who would hide my family? Who would protect my children? Who would help me? Today, Jews are met with a lot of silence. And that, my fellow moms, is frightening. 

How to Help

  1. Be informed. There is vast misinformation and outright propaganda about the history of violence between Israel and Palestine. Seek out multiple sources of information. If you really want to dig deep, read what Hamas terrorists say to their own people. 
  2. Don’t share posts unless you are certain they are accurate.
  3. Check on your Jewish friends. We are not ok.  
  4. Donate to trusted charities like the ones listed on Give Israel
  5. Speak out against misinformation and antisemitism.
  6. Other ways to help can be found at Chabad.Org

Please know that while Vermont Moms has tried to find vetted, reliable ways to help, we still encourage readers to do their own research before donating money. There are fundraising scams in every area of fundraising and this is no different.

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