Home Voorhees News ‘I took being Jewish for granted’

‘I took being Jewish for granted’

Noa Tishby shares with synagogue her efforts to fight antisemitism

Taja Johnson/The Sun

An audience of more than 800 gathered at Congregation Beth El in Voorhees on Dec. 12 to hear Noa Tishby – renowned for her multi-faceted roles as a mother, author, former Israeli actress, ambassador, content creator and antisemitism activist – speak passionately about the rights of Jews.

Tishby engaged in a dialogue moderated by Sid Brown – CEO of National Freight Inc. that touched on critical issues surrounding antisemitism, education and the challenges now faced by Jewish communities worldwide in light of the Israel-Gaza war. She also shed light on her personal journey as a native of Tel Aviv and her ongoing mission to raise awareness and rally support for the cause she champions.

During a discussion at the congregation on her transition to the U.S., Tishby candidly acknowledged that at that time, as she initially introduced herself, she would highlight all of her experiences – except for being Jewish. She also recounted taking her heritage for granted.

“I took Israel for granted, I took being Jewish for granted,” Tishby recalled. “I thought antisemitism was not a thing anymore, for real. When I moved to America, I started thinking, ‘What is happening?'”

Tishby’s reflection on her past revealed a pivotal moment when her experience in the new cultural context of America prompted her to reassess her assumptions about the prevalence of antisemitism. That shift compelled her to delve deeper into the issue and spurred her journey to becoming an advocate for Jewish rights.

Tishby noted that her experience highlights the complexity of confronting and understanding societal prejudices and is a testament to the importance of ongoing dialogue and education around the topic. She delved into the rise of antisemitism, which she emphasized is not merely a local or regional issue, but a global concern with implications for national security.

“What is happening in Israel is a national security issue,” she insisted.

One of the key points Tishby stressed at the congregation event is the importance of educating younger generations comprehensively, not shying away from challenging topics such as ethnic cleansing.

“The younger people need to be educated with the basic stuff too,” she explained, arguing for a more inclusive and transparent approach to education.

In addressing plans to engage with college students, Tishby related the pivotal role of education in combating ignorance and fostering understanding.

“If we are educated on the topic, then we can educate them,” she affirmed, underscoring the importance of knowledge dissemination.

Tishby also spoke poignantly about the prevalence of antisemitism on college campuses, an issue that came to the fore this month as the heads of three Ivy League universities drew fire for their evasive answers on the topic during congressional testimony. She expressed concern about the need to equip students with critical thinking skills to counteract the prejudice and highlighted the gravity of acknowledging the long history of Jewish suppression, not dismissing or ignoring it.

Tishby concluded her talk by emphasizing her goal of making antisemitism socially unacceptable and fostering a sense of pride within the Jewish community. Her aim, she said, is to inspire a collective sense of identity and resilience in fighting prejudice and discrimination.

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