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Freedom of religion is under threat

This past week has been filled with unimaginable tragedy. Between a shooting at a grocery store I frequent back home and the largest mass shooting of Jews ever in the United States, it’s clear that something needs to be done. It is simply not enough for us to stand by and offer our thoughts and condolences to those affected by these acts of violence. 

Nov. 9 marks the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the beginning of the Holocaust — 80 years since Nazis marched down the streets, threatening to kill Jews, destroying synagogues, setting fires to Jewish businesses and in total, murdering almost 100 Jews. America could stand to learn a lesson from these predictable acts of violence.

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise over the last decade. In 2016, the Anti-Defamation League recorded a 57 percent rise in acts perpetrated against Jewish individuals. While Jews, including myself, only make up less than two percent of the U.S. population, religious based hate crimes against Jews have continually made up more than half of the attacks on religious minorities. 

My synagogue in the past few years has recently hired an armed security guard. He goes by “Sweet Pea” and has always been a source of joy for me when I wished to avoid services. When I first heard about the attack in Pittsburgh, I immediately thought of him and his family. Every week, he puts himself at risk to protect a vulnerable community to which he does not belong.

While I’m thankful that he is okay, and that he is willing to put himself at risk, there should be no reason for him to do so. The U.S. Constitution gives us the freedom to practice religion. If we need an armed guard to practice religion, we don’t have the freedom to practice religion. 

Some of us at this school are directly responsible for this senseless loss of life. We prop up politicians who support acts of violence, we refuse to vote and we actively engage in these acts of violence ourselves. It is not an exaggeration to proclaim that the future of our country is at stake on Nov. 6. 

It is our duty as American citizens to exercise our right to vote, because when we don’t, we threaten the livelihood of our friends, families and neighbors. This Tuesday, I will be voting for those who wish to protect the most vulnerable in society, to protect those without a voice and to protect our Constitution. 

There is one party this cycle which has continually sided with hatred. There is one party this cycle who has supported those who march down the streets waving red banners with black swastikas. There is one party this cycle who  has continually stood with those who attack the powerless. There is one party who has demonstrated their disdain for the Constitution, their promotion of white supremacy and their willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure that their remains the party in power, even at the cost of American lives.

My great-grandparents escaped Russian pogroms, only to find their people murdered in their synagogues in their homes. You may forget what happened in Pittsburgh next week. I won’t.

Isaac Weiss, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at

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