The photo of the Chabad rabbi tending to his congregation despite his wounds and exhorting all humanity to embrace the light and fight hatred attests to his courage and resolve. The tragic death of a longstanding member of the Chabad community in protecting him from further injury demonstrates the courage and sacrifice that every generation of the Jewish people make in the fight against Jew hatred.

The struggle continues, as hot on the heels of the atrocity in Poway comes news that a young veteran was apprehended who planned to plant a nail bomb at a rally sponsored by a white nationalist group, but also stands accused of targeting "Jews as they walked to synagogue, police officers, a military facility, and crowds at the Santa Monica Pier."

Jew hatred is a virus that mutates over time, space and political persuasion, originating at times from the left, and other times from the right. Each group points fingers at the other as the ones to blame, but no matter where the source, the evil continues. In the Haggadah, the text which is recited during the first two nights of Seder during the Passover holiday (which the Poway Jewish community was concluding during the attack), we read that, “For not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand!”

We will never, ever, capitulate to those who seek our destruction. But how we defend ourselves is the bone of contention that I gnaw on. There are the reflexive rallies against hate, with slogans spoken and placards waved, memorial shrines appearing overnight at the crime scenes; vows of “never again.” Civil lawsuits intended to bankrupt hate groups are brought, but I think it is necessary to put fear of physical harm into the hearts of our tormentors. The time is long overdue for American Jews to emulate their Israeli brethren by becoming physically strong, learning self defense and how to protect themselves.

Let there be light; and let there be strength. And let those who seek our annihilation beware.

Steven R. Jacobs is a physician practicing the medical specialty of pathology and longtime Bakersfield resident. He can be reached at

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