In Response to Pittsburgh
Over the weekend, as I’m sure everyone in the nation is aware, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history took place at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. As a Jew, and someone who grew up in the Orthodox community, I’m deeply moved and saddened by this attack on our way of life. Perhaps even more heinous and appalling is the secondary effects this may have on our democracy. As a Jew, I cannot speak for all us, but I personally feel intimidated by the recent swelling of racial hatred developing in our tearful country.
For years, sadly, this nightmare has been one we have always expected. Throughout history, not just this weekend, the Jewish people have been persecuted and maligned wherever they’ve traveled. However, we have never knelt nor bowed to the scepter of terror - not to Egyptian pharaohs and certainly not to radical terrorists. For this reason, many have tried yet all have failed to destroy us.
The greatest threat we face as a people is not the barrel of a rifle but the unforgiving virulence of complacency and silence. Under President Obama, we as a Jewish minority in this country watched silently as he signed away millions to Iran and rebuked our sovereignty in front of the United Nations. We didn’t speak at the voting booth and on college campuses around the country, mine included, young adult students have gathered to boycott Israel, gratified swastikas on synagogues and dehumanizing our struggle for existence. Despite our country’s current culture of censorship and silence, we must be ones to bridge the gap and engage with the ideas and people whom wish to destroy us. If our country truly wants to reduce the hatred towards the Jewish people, the first place to start is in ivory towers of academia, media, and enterprise.
Whether it’s pre-Nazi Germany in the 1930’s or now the late Post Modern period of the 21st Century, one thing is certain: we as Jews can never forget nor erase our Judaism from our blood. Sure, we may feel assimilated into society, as we often have throughout history, but we must not make the same mistake again. In times of peace and prosperity, we Jews have often sought to conceal our Jewish ethnicity and simply “blend into” society, rather than stand up proudly for our heritage and faith. Our efforts of assimilation will forever be futile. Sure, we may be accepted and welcomed by our neighbors but don’t be fooled, we will always be the “other”, While the perpetrator who committed this heinous act of horror may be a lone assailant, we as a Jewish community must remain vigilant and aware of the political and social instability currently brewing in our society. If there is anything our history can tell us, its that usually when we think it can’t get worse - it does.
While plenty has changed in America’s attitude towards Jews in the past eighty five years, this has only driven the anti-antisemitism and hatred underground. While we may not hear anyone speaking ill of our people, religion, and way of life, this doesn’t mean that just because we can’t definitely see any anti-antisemitism doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been festering in the shade. As someone who left the Orthodox community and entered a predominantly Catholic high school, let me tell you first hand that anti-antisemitism is alive in well in the sub-conscious minds of America but I still believe this country is a place of freedom and love and remain optimistic.