On the feast of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement for the Jewish community which fell on Oct. 9, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory joined Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, senior rabbi at the Washington Hebrew Congregation and other Jewish scholars for a panel discussion on anti-Semitism and addressing hatred in today's culture. 

Archbishop Gregory encouraged “personal contact” as means of confronting racism, hatred and anti-Semitism. 

“We cannot live apart,” Archbishop Gregory said. “If we live apart, we allow the hatred that seems to need the soil of ignorance to develop, to take root. The involvement we have as Jews, as Christians, as Muslims, as Hindus, ... has never been more needed. We need to work collaboratively and closely to respond to these issues of hatred and violence, no matter who the target might be.”

The Washington archbishop also encouraged people to look to moments of hope, looking to the legacy of both St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis who have cultivated relationships with the Jewish community, healing the wounds of anti-Semitic actions of the Catholic Church in history. 

“The leadership is reminding us and acknowledging that the Church has some very sinful experiences in being anti-Semitic... but by their action, they’re saying that we have to recognize a new reality…” Archbishop Gregory said. “The terrible heritage of anti-Semitism within my own Church has to be acknowledged… We have to acknowledge what we have done wrong.” 

Doron Ezickson, director of the Washington, D.C. region for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, offered his expertise to the panel about the state of affairs for the current rise of anti-Semitism around the world. 

Over the last 20 years, Ezickson said, anti-Semitic hate crimes have doubled. 

“These trends are alarming to say the least,” he said. “The Jewish population is the most targeted among religious communities.” 

He analyzed recent tragic incidents, including a shooting in Germany that very morning, but ultimately encouraged people to see the humanity in others, especially those with different views. 

“Hate on an organized basis and the mainstreaming of hate, and I would suggest, across the political spectrum, is the challenge of our time,” Ezickson said. “We must engage hate in every quarter in every way that we know. We must restore in our own dialogue, in our own view, in the way we interact with each other, a sense of the humanity of the other, whether its online or in political discourse.” 

Pamela Nadell, the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women's and Gender History at American University, also joined the panel to offer a historical context to anti-Semitism. She also spoke to the current state in American history, where she said she didn't see a quick resolution to hatred. 

“I am hoping that we’re in a moment when… all of this hatred will lessen,” Nadell said. “But I’m not, frankly, right now optimistic, because I don’t think we’ve hit the peak… I’m not sure it will end.”