Home Top Stories Some Jewish Americans plan to send kids to school, worship in defiant message against Hamas ‘day of Jihad’

Some Jewish Americans plan to send kids to school, worship in defiant message against Hamas ‘day of Jihad’

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Some Jewish Americans plan to send kids to school, worship in defiant message against Hamas ‘day of Jihad’

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Americans Jews from different parts of the United States are as committed as ever to their faith, affirming that they will not allow a call for global protests against Israel from the former leader of Hamas to disrupt their schools or synagogues.

This week, Khaled Meshaal, the former chief of Hamas’s political bureau for more than 20 years, called for Muslims across the world to head to the squares and streets Friday and protest in support of Palestinians and for neighboring countries to join the battle against Israel.

In a recorded statement sent to Reuters, Meshaal, who is currently based in Qatar and heads Hamas’ diaspora office, is heard saying, “[We must] head to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday.”

Demonstrators attend an

Counterprotesters are shown at an “emergency rally for Gaza” outside the Israeli Consulate in New York City on Oct. 9, 2023. (Jennifer Mitchell for Fox News Digital)

Despite Meshaal’s call for uprisings around the globe, parents and Jewish religious leaders in New York City and Chicago told Fox News Digital that they are “proud Jews” and will continue sending their children to school and worshiping in synagogues amid the threats.

Zahava Berkowicz, whose child attends a Jewish school in the Chicago suburbs, said she received continuous emails about security measures being put in place by the school, as well as synagogues, ahead of Friday.

“It’s terrifying. It’s really, really scary. We all have young kids, and the question is like, do we send them to school? I’m in a lot of WhatsApp groups with different parents from the school, and some people don’t want to send them to school, some people want to send them to school.”

Pointing to religious historical precedent, Berkowicz said she believes the children should be in school.

“To me, I actually think it’s really important that we send our children to school because if you look at Jewish history … there’s been this really long history for the Jewish people of people trying to make us hide our practices or not do our practices,” she said.

Meshaal

In a recorded statement sent to Reuters, Khaled Meshaal, who is currently based in Qatar and heads Hamas’ diaspora office, is heard saying, “[We must] head to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday.” (Momen Faiz / NurPhoto via Getty Images / File)

“I think it’s really important to teach our children to be proud of who they are and to be proud of being Jewish,” Berkowicz added. “Yes, we’re scared, but I think we do need to be brave and strong because we owe that to our brothers and sisters in Israel. Our value system is Jewish learning and Jewish prayers. And it’s really important that our kids are going to school because the people who want to actually wipe us out and murder us for our religion, they want nothing more for us than to stop sending our kids to school, to not pray, to not learn Jewish values.”

One synagogue in the Chicago area – Kehillat Chovevei Tzion – was the target of a bomb threat on Thursday. That threat was issued by a student at Niles North High School and ended up being “non-credible,” according to Shaanan Gelman, the synagogue’s rabbi.

Stand with Israel rally

People attend the Israel Solidarity Rally organized by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation at the Holocaust memorial in Miami Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10, 2023. (Marco Bello / AFP via Getty Images)

“It turns out, you know, they were grossly inappropriate, irresponsible students. It wasn’t a real threat, but it put us on alarm. We sent an email and sent the whole synagogue into panic for a few hours, and now we’re reopened.,” he said. “Thankfully, we’ve confirmed that it wasn’t a credible threat, but this is a reality that when you have lives compromised in Israel due to terrorism, it signals to the world that Jewish blood is cheap. What it does is it gives you permission to make threats against Jews all over the world. That’s our headquarters … whatever happens to us there is going to be replicated elsewhere.”

Like others, Gelman said he and his community are “going to stay strong.”

“Our response is we’re going to keep this synagogue open, and we’re going to operate business as usual,” he said. “We’re going to double, triple, quadruple our crowds because … we’re not going to be threatened, intimidated out of our practices and our beliefs.”

Similar to that of Berkowicz, Akiva Block, the rabbi of a synagogue in New Jersey and a Jewish religious law teacher at SAR High School in New York, suggested that now is the time for American Jews to hold close to their beliefs and prove resilient.

Pro-Palestinian rally

Protesters march in support of Palestinians in New York City on Oct. 8, 2023. (Peter Gerber for Fox News Digital)

“The day of jihad, the day of rage that’s being called asking people all over the world to attack Jews, I think should really, for all of us, dispel the notion that one can separate the state of Israel with the Jewish people,” he said. “I wish this weren’t the case, but as a community, we’re very used to Hamas calling for a day of rage. This is not the first time that that’s taken place, and I suspect it won’t be the last.”

Block said he has “no reservations whatsoever about sending my kids to school” or “about asking the members of our community to come to the synagogue on Friday night and the Sabbath.”

“We’re proud Jews, and what they want … is to make us scared, and the worst thing we can do is be scared. So, we’re going to live our lives. We’re going to practice our faith. We’re going to uphold the values that are most important to us, values of peace and understanding and love. And we’ll continue to support one another and elevate one another and be there for one another in this time of great difficulty. And we’re going to get through this story together, and no day of rage can ever stop us.”

Demonstrators attend an

Demonstrators attend an “emergency rally for Gaza” outside the Israeli Consulate in New York City on Oct. 9, 2023. (Jennifer Mitchell for Fox News Digital)

Telling those in the community to remain “vigilant” and “keep your eyes open” to certain threats that could emerge, Block said he believes that members of his community are safe and protected.

“The kinds of safety measures that we always employ and the safety measures that we should be employing now, and maybe perhaps with a little bit of heightened sensitivity,” he said.

Lisa Friedman, a New Jersey resident and the mother of four children who attend a Jewish religious school in New York City, said she issaddened as an American” to even have to worry about an “internal threat” amid Israel’s war with Hamas.

Protests

Pro-Israeli counterprotesters are shown outside the Israeli Consulate in New York City during the Democratic Socialists of America protest in solidarity with the Palestinians. (Peter Gerber for Fox News Digital)

“I am hoping that America’s response to this, both on the federal, state and local levels, is to deploy more security measures,” she said. “What bothers me even more than being threatened by an outside force like the jihad is the internal threat that I feel is palpable through so many news articles that I read [and] at the college level – from students at colleges who have adopted a rhetoric that allows for barbaric, savage human cruelty in the name of any greater cause.”

“Like any human of good conscience, we’re … repulsed by what we’ve all witnessed from the videos and the pictures and news reports,” she added. “We will, of course, proceed on a regularly scheduled basis and will not be cowed by terroristic threats from maniacal and suicidal ideologies. We plan to continue our day, not hide. On the contrary, we plan to be more public with our faith and our American values.”

Pro-Palestine rally in New York City

Demonstrators with signs march in support of the Palestinian people on Oct. 8, 2023, in New York City. (Adam Gray / Getty Images)

“As a mother, I am appalled that there are Americans among us who are not only refraining from calling out the actions of this heinous terror group against innocent Israeli civilians but actually defending and justifying the heinous crimes of a barbaric terror group, especially when they are trying to reach us here in the United States,” Lisa Daftari, editor-in-chief of the Foreign Desk, told Fox News Digital. “This is a tremendous wake-up call to all. It’s not about Israelis versus Palestinians. It’s terrorists against the free world.”

In a Thursday evening statement, 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 disrupt any threats that may emerge.”

“As always, we take seriously any tips or leads we receive regarding potential threats and investigate them rigorously to determine their credibility. The FBI encourages members of the public to remain vigilant and report anything they consider suspicious to law enforcement,” the agency said.

Fox News’ Greg Wehner contributed to this report.

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