American Jews in different parts of the United States are more committed to their faith than ever, saying they will not allow a call for global protests against Israel by the former Hamas leader to disrupt their schools or synagogues .
This week, Khaled Meshaal, former head of Hamas’s political bureau for more than 20 years, called on Muslims around the world to take to the squares and streets on Friday to demonstrate in support of the Palestinians and neighboring countries so that they join the battle against Israel.
In a recorded statement sent to Reuters, Meshaal, who is currently based in Qatar and heads Hamas’s diaspora office, said: “(We must) go to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday.”
Despite Meshaal’s call for uprisings around the world, Jewish parents and religious leaders in New York and Chicago told Fox News Digital that they are “proud Jews” and will continue to send their children to school and to pray in synagogues despite threats.
Zahava Berkowicz, whose child attends a Jewish school in suburban Chicago, said she received continuous emails about safety measures put in place by the school, as well as synagogues, before Friday.
“It’s terrifying. It’s really, really scary. We all have young children, and the question is: do we send them to school? I’m in a lot of WhatsApp groups with different parents from school, and some people don’t do it.” I don’t want to send them to school, some people want to send them to school. »
Citing religious historical precedent, Berkowicz said she believes children should be in school.
“For me, I actually think it’s really important that we send our kids to school because if you look at Jewish history… there’s been a very long history for the Jewish people, of people trying to make us hide our practices or not do them,” she said.
“I think it’s really important to teach our children to be proud of who they are and to be proud to be Jewish,” Berkowicz added. “Yes, we are afraid, but I think we have to be courageous and strong because we owe it to our brothers and sisters in Israel. Our value system is Jewish learning and Jewish prayers. And it’s really important that our children go to school because the people who want to eliminate us and murder us because of our religion, they want nothing more for us than to stop sending our children to school. school, not to pray, not to learn. Jewish values.”
A Chicago-area synagogue – Kehillat Chovevei Tzion – was the target of a bomb threat Thursday. The threat was made by a student at Niles North High School and was found to be “not credible,” according to Shaanan Gelman, the synagogue’s rabbi.
“It turned out, you know, that these were very inappropriate and irresponsible students. It wasn’t a real threat, but it put us on alert. We sent an email and sent the whole synagogue into panic for a few hours, and now we are open again,” he said. “Fortunately, we have confirmed that this is not a credible threat, but it is a reality: when lives are compromised in Israel because of terrorism, it signals to the world that Jewish blood is cheap . What this does is give “You have permission to make threats against Jews all over the world. This is our headquarters…whatever happens to us there, it will be replicated elsewhere. “
Like others, Gelman said he and his community are “going to stay strong.”
“Our response is that we are going to keep this synagogue open and we are going to continue business as usual,” he said. “We’re going to double, triple, quadruple our crowds because…we’re not going to be threatened, intimidated because of our practices and our beliefs.”
Similar to Berkowicz’s, Akiva Block, a New Jersey synagogue rabbi and professor of Jewish religious law at New York’s SAR High School, suggested that now is the time for American Jews to hold true to their beliefs and make proof of resilience.
“On the day of jihad, the day of rage that calls for people around the world to attack Jews, I think it should really, for all of us, dispel the idea that you can separate the State of Israel of the Jewish people,” he added. he said. “I wish this wasn’t the case, but as a community we are very used to Hamas calling for a day of rage. This is not the first time this has happened, and I I think it won’t be the last.” “.
Block said he had “no reservations about sending my kids to school” or “asking members of our community to come to synagogue on Friday evenings and the Sabbath.”
“We are proud Jews, and what they want… is to scare us, and the worst thing we can do is be afraid. So we are going to live our lives. We are going to practice our faith . We will uphold the values that are most important to us, the values of peace, understanding and love. And we will continue to support each other, uplift each other and be there for each other in this time of great difficulty. And we will get through this together, and no day of rage can ever stop us.”
Urging community members to remain “vigilant” and “keep their eyes open” to certain threats that may arise, Block said he believes his community members are safe and protected.
“The kinds of security measures we still use and the security measures we should be using now, and maybe with a little bit of increased sensitivity,” he said.
Lisa Friedman, a New Jersey resident and mother of four children who attend a Jewish religious school in New York, said she “saddened as an American” to even have to worry about an “internal threat” amid the war between Israel and Hamas.
“I hope that the American response to this, both at the federal level and at the state level and at the local level, is to deploy more security measures,” she said. “What bothers me even more than being threatened by an external force like jihad is the internal threat which I believe is palpable through so many press articles that I have read (and) at university level – from students who have adopted a rhetoric that condones barbaric and savage human cruelty in the name of a greater cause.”
“Like any human being of good conscience, we are…repulsed by what we have all witnessed through the videos, photos and reports,” she added. “We will of course proceed on a regular basis and will not be intimidated by terrorist threats emanating from manic and suicidal ideologies. We plan to go about our day, not hide. On the contrary, we plan to be more public with our faith and our American values.”
“As a mother, I am appalled that there are Americans among us who not only fail to denounce the actions of this heinous terrorist group against innocent Israeli civilians, but who defend and justify the heinous crimes of a barbaric terrorist group, especially when they “We’re trying to join here in the United States,” Foreign Desk editor Lisa Daftari told Fox News Digital. “It’s a tremendous wake-up call for all. This is not about Israelis versus Palestinians. It’s about terrorists against the free world.”
In a statement released Thursday evening, the FBI acknowledged Meshaal’s call for global protests and said the agency “is working closely with our law enforcement partners across the country to share information and identify and thwart any threats that may emerge.”
“As always, we take seriously any tips or leads we receive regarding potential threats and rigorously investigate them to determine their credibility. The FBI encourages members of the public to remain vigilant and report anything they consider suspicious to the law enforcement,” the agency said.
Greg Wehner of Fox News contributed to this report.