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The Power of Symbols

  • January 9, 2017

Today, I woke up to two images on my facebook newsfeed of anti-Semitic graffiti. The first was on the gravestone of a family with the last name of, “Gladstein,” and a prominent Star of David below. Spray- painted over the family’s name and the star were the words, “F***ing Jews.” A few hours later, both of my Rabbis had posted an image of the sign from their Seminary in Cincinnati. A large swastika was painted over the sign to the campus library.

Many must feel helpless at this time. The number of swastikas and anti-Semitic phrases popping up on our newsfeeds and timelines seems to be increasing rapidly. Why do we let these symbols hold such power over us? They represent not only hatred, but real consequences for being Jewish. These symbols are spray-painted to put fear into our hearts.

How should we combat biased vandalism, cyberthreats and general online hatred? The ADL does amazing work with education, but we must take it upon ourselves to call out biased behavior, and shout out that it is wrong!  When we see it in our family and friends through comments or passive action, we cannot ignore.  I know many feel they should pick their battles, but I believe we’ve allowed hateful conduct to happen, and are now in this remarkable place in time. We need to come together, and challenge intolerance by being an ally.

When you see hateful behavior, file a complaint with the ADL,, take the pledge, and #STANDUP.

Talia Earle

Ms. Earle is a participant with ADL’s 2017 Glass Leadership Institute