Bay Area Jewish leaders respond to anti-Semitic symbolism displayed at Capitol

In the hours that followed Wednesday's siege at the Capitol, rabbis around the Bay Area offered immediate support to Jewish congregants. Many were alarmed by anti-Semitic symbolism and references to the Holocaust they'd seen on the news.

Los Altos Hills Congregation Beth Am held an impromptu Zoom gathering for prayer and discussion.

"As Jews, we have a role to play in this conversation, and we stand by our neighbors, and we support all of those who feel the burdens of racism, the burdens of intolerance, the burdens of xenophobia," said Rabbi Jonathan Prosnit, who led the synagogue's virtual gathering.

 In Oakland, Temple Beth Abraham live-streamed songs and a prayer for the country over social media.

"One of the most disturbing images was someone wearing a t-shirt that said "camp Auschwitz" like it was a summer camp, which was of course a death camp. And so that added special pain to it," Temple Beth Abraham's Rabbi Mark Bloom said.

Rebecca Calahan Klein attended Beth Abraham's virtual gathering. The attack on the Capitol hit close to home, as she and her husband had worked there and traveled there in support of social justice issues.

As she looked at the images displayed on the news, Calahan Klein said she thought, "We have to be mindful this is not the way we resolve differences. There is a lot of anti-Semitism.There is also hate for many many different groups. That is simply not acceptable," she said.

The Anti-Defamation League identified people associated with white supremacist and right-wing extremist groups present at the Capitol Wednesday.

The organization says there is a national problem with disinformation and conspiracy theories, emboldening this kind of violence.

"Anybody that was invovled in yesterday's violence needs to be accountable for yerday's actions. There need to be arrests made, and accountability in terms of the security, and the lack of security," Seth Brysk, regional director for the ADL said.

Looking ahead to a Biden administration and a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, there is widespread optimism among Jews closely following the election of John Ossoff, a Jew, to represent Georgia in the Senate. 

"It is so exciting and just, as your grandmother would say, we're all kvelling. He is an extraordinary leader," Calahan Klein said.