Lawn Sign or Bullseye?

As I drive around, I see lawn signs along the side of the road promoting candidates running for office. These signs aim to draw the attention of those who drive by in the hopes of gaining some name recognition.

When I get closer to home, I see similar signs advertising the upcoming Turkey Trot 5K race, the fall festival next weekend, and the local contractor installing my neighbor’s new kitchen. All of these lawn signs are innocuous and ubiquitous.

Two weeks ago, my synagogue was selling “I Stand with Israel” lawn signs for congregants to take home and display proudly. I was excited to buy one before they ran out, but when I arrived home, I had second thoughts.

I was afraid to put the sign on my lawn.

Hear me out. I live in a fantastic neighborhood that prides itself on its diversity. Our best friends practice different religions, and we like to celebrate holidays together. My family is far from the only Jewish one on my street and in the community. When the war in Ukraine broke out, many lawn signs and flags popped up in everyone’s front yards. We put one up, too, in support of our Ukrainian neighbors down the street from us.

So, why the hesitation? Why should displaying my “I Stand With Israel” sign be any different?

Because it is different.

Because there is so much misinformation out there about the war between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas.

Because people are getting their news from unreliable and unconfirmable sources and taking it at face value. Flashy headlines sell papers. Retractions and apologies are never front and center.

Because Israel is the only country that is blamed for defending itself against its enemies. Antisemitic tropes about Israel’s right to fight against terrorist aggression can be found in syndicated editorial cartoons, podcasts, and college campuses everywhere.

Because there are people in this world who have hate in their hearts, easy access to automatic weapons, and no self-control.

Because this war is against a terrorist group whose sole mission is to eradicate the Jewish people.

While one might say it’s only a lawn sign, I can also see it as putting a target on our front door. I spoke with a few of my Jewish friends about this, and they generally agreed with me. Several of them told me they have started to wonder where they would hide if terrorism came to our doorsteps. I’ve never had that thought in my life until now, and in today’s political climate, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

I’m sure other people — Jewish or not — will think I’m overreacting. But, here’s the thing. At the end of the day, I know who I am, and I don’t feel the need to advertise it. Instead, I will continue to wear my Jewish star around my neck, practice my faith, observe holidays, attend synagogue, write my blog. call out misinformation on social media, and pray for strength and peace.

What would you do?



5 comments on Lawn Sign or Bullseye?

  1. Davood Denavi
    November 1, 2023 at 9:12 am (4 months ago)

    I was hoping for the boys of summer from Philly to get to the World World series because as a Cubs fan I wanted to see Schwarber win a second ring.

  2. Victoria+Juster
    October 27, 2023 at 11:49 am (4 months ago)

    I agree with you about lawn signs, Elisa. I freely admit that I’m Jewish but the idea of putting up a lawn sign creates fear and anxiety. I don’t want to be the cause of harm for myself, any perrson at my home or harm do to stray bullets. When our synagogue was adding a play ground for the preschool, they had to have security experts help in the design so that there wouldn’t be any direct lines for shooters. What other religious school in the U.S. has to do that?

  3. Lily Leung
    October 26, 2023 at 8:57 pm (4 months ago)

    Elisa, you are right about much misinformation about the war between Israel and Hamas. But I find your statement that their sole mission is to eradicate the Jewish people rather extreme. Isn’t this war about territory?

    • JB
      October 26, 2023 at 9:24 pm (4 months ago)

      The dispute between Israel and Palestine is about territory. Hamas is a terrorist group whose sole mission is, they admit, to eradicate the Jewish people and Israelis. Elisa’s statement is accurate.

    • Elisa
      October 27, 2023 at 8:19 am (4 months ago)

      Sadly, my statement is the truth. I appreciate you asking the question, to give me the opportunity to clear that up.