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Standing Up To Hate: San Diego Rabbi’s Message After Poway Synagogue Shooting

SDSU Religious Studies lecturer Rabbi Scott Meltzer giving an open lecture ad...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: SDSU Religious Studies lecturer Rabbi Scott Meltzer giving an open lecture addressing the shooting at a synagogue in Poway, April 29, 2019.

SDSU OHR Shalom Synagogue's Rabbi Scott Meltzer met with KPBS Evening Edition Host Ebone Monet to talk about his latest lecture in the wake of the recent shooting at a synagogue in Poway.

RELATED: Report: Violent Anti-Semitic Attacks In US Doubled In 2018

Q: After this recent act of violence there are some people calling for people to stand up against hate. You lectured on this. What was your message?

A: The message is that there is a segment of our society that's always been there. That as one, an economic recession, and two, as our society has really come to express the values that we believe in, as it relates that all people are created equal into a fair and equal access to all the goods that we share as Americans. There are people who are very threatened, and people who feel unhappy with their lot in life, and are looking to blame others.

It is just tragically often been the case in history that a disgruntled minority turns angry and violent, and that among the list of people that are hated and feared, ultimately, the Jews top the list. And so we're seeing that expression — it's been for a couple of years — that as white supremacy has become more visible in our society, as people have come out of the shadows and have declared a voice even in public, in national debate, as we have a representative of Congress questioning what's wrong with talking about white nationalism. It's not surprising that some segment of that hate-filled white supremacist mindset is truly violent.

Q: What does that call to stand up against hate mean to you?

We need to make sure that the most ignorant, and most hateful, do not set the agenda for who we are as a community. We need to stand up in response to that. My children tease me, but sometimes it's about wearing a button. It's about never being afraid to stick our nose into a conversation to say that's anti-semitic, that's racist, that's ugly. The reality is my kids come to it much more naturally than I do.

I will not stand quiet when anybody has their civil rights, their human rights or their safety threatened. And we need to feel that way about everybody. It can't just be because it's a synagogue 15 minutes from my house. It needs to be at any moment that there's any act of intolerance, be it verbal, be it implicit or be it actually violent.

Video by Roland Lizarondo

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