The problem, as I see it, is that there are too many today who give lip service to his legacy. Specifically to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On paper, some (ahem, Republicans) will state emphatically that they are for voting rights and protecting the right to vote. In reality, they are constricting the access to the polls for certain populations, knowing that these groups have by a wide margin, have supported their opponents.
When the Supreme Court agreed via Shelby County v. Holder that two sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional, it opened the door to the dangerous situation that our nation is presently in. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 would not only strengthen its predecessor but would also hopefully prevent another Shelby County vs. Holder. The issue is that this nation and this Congress is too fractured to protect the ideals that we claim to hold near and dear.
The only way to honor Dr. King’s legacy and memory is to continue where he left off. Though the ground that has been gained is tremendous, the reality is that there are many battles ahead of us.
When my immigrant ancestors came to this country more than a century ago, they came for the freedoms and opportunities that did not exist in the places of their birth. They were also escaping from the antisemitism that at best limited their chances for a productive life and at worst, killed them for absolutely nothing. I imagine that they hoped that in emigrating, their descendants would be accepted for who they were and not hated/discriminated against for their religious beliefs.
It breaks my heart that this hope still lingers in the distance.
I am so f*cking tired of this antisemitic bullshit. I’m tired of being forced to choose between being accepted by the wider non-Jewish world and being true to the faith I was raised in. For once, I would like to wake up and know that no one gives a shit about who I pray or don’t pray to. But we live in a world in which hate, prejudice, and fear still have a firm foothold on our reality.
As a proud Jewish person, I get tired of the antisemitic, anti-Israel bullshit. For once, I wish we would just get over it and move on with their lives. As I see it, it takes way too much physical and emotional energy to hate another person simply because of who they are. Why not just live and let live?
Outside of her work as a performer, Watson is known as a feminist and a humanitarian. The fact that she is committed to both causes is nothing to sneeze at. But they are undermined when Israel is marginalized and demonized due to either purposeful lies or ignorance. Watson seems to be an intelligent and educated woman with a dedication to creating a better world. The problem is that she, like many people either ignore the facts or doesn’t bother to do their research before professing support of a terrorist organization. The issue grows tenfold when someone who has a platform as she does spreads lies.
I have nothing against those of Palestinian origin. My problem is when a government uses their resources not to build up their country, but to destroy another and convince the people that the neighbor is to blame. One of the podcasts I regularly listen to, Israel Story, had a recent episode about the Sbarro suicide bombing that occurred in the summer of 2001. Instead of just interviewing the surviving victims and their family members, they also interviewed the family of the person responsible for the attack. While I find it heartening and revealing is that the brother of the bomber partially places the blame on his government, not on Israel (start at 1:12:39).
Is she antisemite? I don’t know, I’ve never had the opportunity to meet her in person. But I do know that Israel is the only nation in that region in which women are fully enfranchised. The Tel Aviv Pride parade is one of the biggest gay pride parades in the world. It is a full-fledged democracy in which all citizens, regardless of any societal labels, have the same rights and responsibilities.
We all grow up with tales of the family members who have come before us. The question is, what is fact and what is fiction?
Journalist Silvia Foti grew up with the story that her maternal grandfather, Jonas Noreika, gave his life for his native Lithuania, fighting against the Communists. As her mother breathed her last, Silvia promised that she would write the long-awaited book about Jonas. Her initial research matched her expectations: a martyred war hero whose name and reputation earned him a place of honor. What Silvia did not expect was that he was a member of the Nazi party and ordered the deaths of thousands of his Jewish neighbors.
This is a memoir to savor. Foti brings in both her journalist experience and the want of a granddaughter to find out the truth about the man who partially contributed to her DNA. With the ever-present shadow of antisemitism and the sadly still too present Holocaust denial, this book is the light in the darkness. I wish there were more people like Silvia Foti. By both bringing Jonas’s actions into the spotlight, she is opening the door to making sure that the victims are remembered and there will never be any chance of claiming that the Holocaust never happened.
I truly enjoyed this book. It is both a middle finger to those who hate us and a challenge. To the Jewish reader, Freeman is asking us if the cost of assimilation is worth it. To the non-Jewish reader, he is not asking for friendship and acceptance, he is asking them to examine their own prejudices and ideas about our faith and those who practice it.
One of the things that strikes me this year is that it feels more relevant than ever. With antisemitism on the rise, it’s not difficult to see the parallels between what we are going through in 2021 and the Maccabee’s fight for religious freedom. As the United States is potentially stumbling into autocracy and away from democracy and religious pluralism, this story is more than important than ever.
If you celebrate, wherever you are, have a Happy Hanukkah.
There is a joke about Jewish history: “they tried to kill us, we survived. Let’s eat”. But like any joke, there is a truth behind the laughter. Though we are still here, the collective emotional scar of the losses is still with us, even if it is generations after a specific event.
Today is the 3rd anniversary of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. To even type those words hurts. It could have happened in any synagogue in America. But this person chose to walk into Tree of Life and started shooting. What I remember about that day is the fear as I watched the news. I have not attended services reguarlarly in decades, but I have family who does. My initial fear was that this heinous act had reached my relatives. Thankfully, it didn’t.
The message that was sent did not need to be spoken. According to the gunman and those who think like him, we do not belong in this country. Our “differences” (which are merely on the surface) mark us for at best being questionable outsiders and at worst, put a target on our backs. I would love to say that in the three years since 11 innocent people were murdered, that this was the turning point away from hate and prejudice. Unfortunately, as we all know, it wasn’t.
May the memories of those killed that day be a blessing. Z”L.
Antisemitism is on the rise. It is a fact that is sadly indisputable. When innocent congregants were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27th, 2018, it was a wake up call.
Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood, by Mark Oppenheimer (co-host of the Unorthodox podcast), was published earlier this month. In the book, Opppenheimer focuses on the community, both past and present. It starts with the history of both the city and the neighborhood and ends with how it has bounced back since that day. What makes Squirrel Hill unique is that it is both diverse and has retained it’s Jewish neshama (soul). While in other parts of the country, there is an obvious demographic, cultural and religious shift over the decades, this district has maintained its identity.
When the gunman (who the author does not mention by name and shall be referred to in the same manner in this review) entered the synagogue, it was an event that can only be described as knowing the rose colored glasses off of our collective faces. With a journalist’s eye and the heart of an ordinary human being, Oppenheimer speaks to survivors, the victim’s family members, local residents, historians, and others to tell the story of a moment in time that will forever be preserved in a moment of hate, fear, and heartbreak.
I loved this book. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on multiple lists of the top books of 2021. If the author’s approach would have been to wallow in grief and anger while telling this story, he would have had every right to. But he treats the subject with sensitivity and the understanding that not everyone involved is ready or able to talk about that day and its aftermath.
Anyone with an inkling of knowledge of Jewish history knows that it comes down to one phrase: they tried to kill us, we survived, now lets eat”. Though its a joke, the truth behind it is far from funny. Over the millennia, we have been accused of lies, forced to convert and assimilate to survive, persecuted, and murdered.
I loved this book. Pulling no punches, the author knocks the rose colored glasses off the reader’s face. She forces us to take a long and difficult look at the past and how its time to get real. As I see it, we have an opportunity to put to rest the deception that has caused too many generations to suffer for no reason. The question is, are we willing to do so? Or is it easier to just repeat the actions of our predecessors?