The US Department of Labor was founded in 1884 as the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was elevated to cabinet level by President Taft in 1913, who also gave the agency its current name. Today, it oversees a long list of categories of laborers, from farm workers to restaurant employees.

One such category is 'Day Laborers' - those who work, and are paid, one day at a time. This category also exists in Jewish law. It is called פעלי דיממא - 'Workers of the Day' (Talmud Eruvin 65a).

It has been a trying few weeks for Jews across the world. Although, thank G‑d, the majority of Jews would not know of antisemitic occurrences if not for seeing or hearing reports, the statistics and footage are very disturbing. Attacks on Jews in Times Square in broad daylight, on the Upper East Side, in Chicago, LA, Yale and many more.

This is nothing new, but we search for a response.

The Jewish people were charged by G‑d to be ambassadors of light and goodness in our world. The world knows this, and most people have great respect for it. So what happens with the Jewish people affects the world. In patterns repeated throughout history, movements and attitudes that are either begun by Jews, or focused on Jews, quickly spread far beyond. This is true for both the positive as well as the negative.

Jews were the first to espouse belief in one G‑d - One who created the heavens and earth yet cannot be seen - and were at first ridiculed for it. Yet today this belief is held by some four billion human beings. Jews also spearheaded the values of charity, education, medicine and many more. On the flip side, detrimental ideas that started as attacks on Jews usually spread to become international phenomena.

Simply put, as Jews, what we do has a great influence on the world around us.

So, what do we do to combat darkness? How do we respond?

Let's head back to the Department of Labor's 'Day Laborers' section, for within it lies a clue: We should be 'Day Laborers'. In a play on words, Chassidic thought often quotes the Talmud's term for day laborers ('פעלא דיממא'), saying that as Jews it is our mission to be 'Day Laborers' (אנן פעלא דיממא אנן) - to labor in the spread of 'day', i.e. light, goodness and kindness.

As Jews we have a priceless gift to be immensely proud of. Far from having something to apologize for, our Jewish heritage is a four millennia old, thriving, successful and meaningful powerhouse. It has inspired countless millions of human beings of all backgrounds, of all religions and of no religion, and continues to do so.

Antisemitism needs to be confronted and stopped, but eventually it always fails and fades. Meanwhile, we can continue with our mission of אנן פעלא דיממא אנן - we are spreaders of light. And we should be very proud to do so.

Rabbi Avrohom