Recently, it’s been a strange time to be a Jew in the US. Antisemitism is on the rise, racists and white supremacists occupy the highest levels of government, anti-immigrant policies are running rampant, and the separation of church and state is now in a dire place due to the Supreme Court.
I’ve been wearing Jewish jewelry since the new administration began and it’s had a profound impact on my life. I’ve had people express their ignorance over what Judaism is. I’ve had people say outright offensive things, often from a Christian-centric world view. I’ve even had people I thought were good friends and safe people push out justifications for hateful and dangerous policies without even realizing the impact it would have on me, along with anyone else different from them.
But I’ve also had random people strike up conversations because they’re Jewish too. I’ve had strangers wish me good yontif, I’ve had a man approach me at work and just launch into a shaggy dog pun about Jewish retirees, and I had an Israeli expat talk to me about grocery shopping during passover. As a Jew, having someone I don’t know wish me the correct happy holiday during a professional exchange is rare, and was profoundly moving to a degree I didn’t expect.
As secular as I am, I am also deeply Jewish. Today is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Rememberance Day. Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and the world population of Jews is only now approaching the same number as what it was before the Holocaust. Beyond that number, an additional six million people were killed, all for being too “other”. As a Jew it’s my duty to remind the world that racial supremacy must be ended everywhere, and racial acceptance made the norm.
So today, please take a moment to think about the direction politics are going and think not just how they’ll affect you, but also how they’ll affect people who aren’t in your own in-group. Ending genocide, racism, and ethic cleansing isn’t something that was won at the end of World War II. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance, justice, and compassion.