Living in a hostile world

February 17, 2023

As significant as they are, the challenges in the classroom pale in comparison to the stressors of simply living in a world that is becoming increasingly divided. Anti-semitism is an issue that the Jewish community has long faced, but modern threats of violence and several hate-motivated shootings in synagogues across the country this year bring tension to times that are supposed to be joyful. Before High Holy day season, classes are offered through the synagogue that cover what to do if someone comes in with the intent to kill. “Its a heart-wrenching reminder of the state of the nation in which we live,” Mina says. “My thoughts drift to wonder, when will it be my synagogue?” 

On High Holy days, there is always a police officer watching over the synagogue’s doors, looking out for a potential active shooter. It is imperative that the synagogue doors remain closed at all times, ensuring that only those with approved access can come in: synagogue members have an ID card to swipe at the door in order to gain entry.  “Your first image as you go into a Holy day services holiday celebration is protection and security,” Mina explains. “It’s a reminder that there is a chance, a frightening chance.”  

This year on Rosh Hashana (ראש השנה), when Mina arrived at her synagogue, there was no police officer – and the doors were wide open. Instead of feeling an overwhelming sense of peace, she was at first confused and then fearful. For her, the open door wasn’t a welcoming symbol, it was the perfect opportunity for what she feared most to come true. 

“On one of the holiest days of the year, I want to focus on the holy aspects. I want to feel the great spiritual connection that I adore, and spend time with my Jewish community,” she shares. “Instead, my thoughts shift to imagining someone coming through those open doors – doors that shouldn’t be open – and releasing fire.” 


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