Bomb threats, vandalism leaves Jewish community feeling uneasy

Posted at 7:28 AM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 08:35:22-05

Bomb threats have been made to Jewish Community Centers in 11 states including Michigan. In Ann Arbor at least two bomb threats were made against the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center.

There's also been a rise in vandalism in Jewish cemeteries. In Philadelphia more than 100 headstones were toppled or damaged in the Mount Carmel Cemetery.

"There was just a pit in my stomach," Rabbi Amy Bigman said.

That's how Rabbi Bigman, the Rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Congregation felt when she heard dozens of tombstones were toppled over and destroyed at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, MO. She says it really hurts on a personal level because she was a rabbi for seven years in St. Louis... And provided funeral services at that very cemetery.

"There could've been people whose funerals I officiated at whose graves were desecrated,” Rabbi Bigman said. “I don't know that, but it's possible. And it just makes you sick to your stomach."

She told me it's been difficult to keep the Jewish community of East Lansing feeling safe during these dark times of bomb threats and vandalism. Other community members say they're on guard.

"I know that individuals have increased their own measures of security as well as the greater community at large," Lisa Bass, who volunteers are Shaarey Zedek Congregation in East Lansing said.

Rabbi Bigman says even though these recent anti-Semitic acts are disturbing, she's not scared, because she's built strong relationships with other leaders of faith in the East Lansing community and says no matter what, they'll help each other.

"I know if, god forbid, something like that happened here in a Jewish cemetery or any other cemetery, we would all be together supporting each other and supporting the greater community,” Rabbi Bigman said. “We've been building these relations for decades."

She says no matter what walk of life you come from, to try to put yourself in their shoes, because education and understanding are the best ways to stop this antisemitism.

"It may not be your religion or your belief system that's being targeted, but it could be unfortunately,” Rabbi Bigman said. “And we all have to work together to find ways to make this world a better place."