“Presente” by Neal Topf

… No, not as in what we give 8 of at Hanukkah every year, but what attendees of the #AMIA25 recited in unison after each of the 85 names of people who perished tragically in that attack were read out loud.

On July 16, I had the honor of representing Temple Dor Dorim along with Rabbi and Shoshi Lipson, Rabbi Novak, and Jamie Mafdali in attending the 25th anniversary South Florida memorial of the terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Approximately 700 people, from synagogues and Jewish organizations, Florida state and city government representatives, and various foreign consulates, gathered to hear important messages of solidarity and a push for justice for this unsolved crime. The most moving speeches were delivered by the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, who shared his personal experiences participating in the immediate investigation, on site in Buenos Aires following the attack, and the harsh conversations he had with high level politicians and government investigators who ultimately, did nothing. Likewise, Leandro Fernandez, the Consul General from Argentina, spoke of strong support from the new Macri-lead Argentinean government, that has declared HEZBOLLAH, a terrorist organization and has committed to advance the investigation and bring the guilty to justice.

The most moving moment of the evening was the MUST-SEE short film produced by AMIA commemorating the 25th anniversary with commentary by a daughter of one of the 85 people who were murdered: https://www.amia.org.ar/2019/07/04/mama-el-nuevo-video-de-amia-que-reivindica-el-valor-de-la-memoria/ The film has English subtitles.

For me, the most important take away from the events continue to be:

Anti-Semitism is present everywhere. This attack was in the Western Hemisphere.

Societies that don’t speak up, that don’t effectively prosecute and bring the guilty to justice will continue to be soft targets ripe for continued bullying and attack.

Participating in events like this are direct ways to demonstrate commitment to and the defense of our right to be Jewish where, when, and how we want.

Show Up for Shabbat. Not the populate hashtag for just one particular Shabbat, but all Shabbats. One thing that distinguishes Jewish people is that we celebrate Shabbat, yet very few of us actually do so at home or at synagogue. Go to TDD on Friday evening, we have a great new Rabbi and a great synagogue – spending an hour of time at the end of the work week is a great way to remember that participating in Shabbat is what makes us Jewish.

The #AMIA25 was a testament to what can take place when people from diverse schools of thought and identity come together and celebrate the importance and protection of Judaism. If we don’t, who will? Please, continue to have the 85 people in your hearts, and count yourselves as presentes in the fight to protect our right and obligation to practice Judaism and live Jewish lives.

Written by Neal Topf, Executive Vice President of Temple Dor Dorim

One Response to ““Presente” by Neal Topf”

  1. Very important call to action or at least participation. You are absolutely right! We must stand up for ourselves because no one else will do so. Thank you for your dedication to our synagogue and to our People.


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