Among the major cities in the world, Vienna ranks among the most beautiful. The city is elegant and timeless, attracting visitors from around the world.
But there is another side to this city that came to the forefront during World War II. Only 130,000 Jewish residents were able to leave Europe before the borders closed. Of the 650,000 people that remained, approximately 2,000 were alive at the end of the war.
80 years later, European Jews (and Viennese Jews to be more specific) still have a target on their backs. At 8PM local time, six gunmen spread across the city. Their first target was the Seitenstettengasse synagogue. As of the most recent news reports, fifteen people were injured and one person is deceased.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am getting tired of seeing headlines like these. At the end of the day, we are all human beings. We all deserve the same respect, opportunities, and rights, regardless of who we are as individuals.
Humanity is better than this. We know that. We have seen what happens when we start to love one another. Unfortunately, there are still far too many who believe that their faith/culture is better than all others. I don’t know what it will take, but its time to stop this foolishness.
One of my favorite quotes from Star Wars the following:
“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.
Yesterday was the second anniversary of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Those were murdered that day (Z”l) because they were Jews.
Unlike the America that my parents and grandparents were born into, my early years were free of antisemitism. I lived in multi-cultural world that respected everyone, regardless of labels or ancestry.
October 27th, 2018 changed all that. It was a slap in the face, a cold reminder that antisemitism is still alive and well in the United States. It has been said that time heals all wounds. But time can never take away the pain of that day.
But even with the heartbreak, there is still hope.
Our people and our faith has been threatened countless time over the millennia. But we are still here and we will always be here.
While we carry on as we always have, the memory of those killed that day will live on forever, in spite of the heartache that comes with that loss.
Looking back on my childhood, I can appreciate the things that my parents did for me. Without their love and support, I would not have the achievements I have today. But, there was one caveat: they were not going to do everything for me. At a certain point, I had to put on my big girl boots and become self- sufficient.
“President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about but he can’t help them be successful more than they want to be successful,”
Within Jewish culture, we have a joke: Is something or someone good or bad for the Jews? Kushner is definitely bad for the Jews.
Anti-Semites have never needed a reason to hate us. They will find any excuse to blame us for whatever is going wrong in the world. The problem is that his statement legitimizes their lies and gives an air of truth.
He is also bad for his father-in-law’s Presidential election. The administration claims that they understand the needs of the working man and woman. If they did, this kind of statement would never have left his lips.
This is a privileged family who has never had to worry about where the next paycheck is going to come from or if they will be able to keep a roof over their heads. Their children have been and will be gifted jobs within the family business. They will never know the agony and stress that comes with looking for a job while making due on unemployment checks.
The truth is that we all want success. But success only comes hard work, which comes from opportunities. Kushner’s remark is disparaging, hurtful, elitist and racist. If you know who truly wants another term, they had better start living up to the claims they are making.
If we have learned nothing else about Covid-19 since March, it is that the virus neither knows or cares about the labels and boundaries that human beings have created.
In New York City, there are about a dozen zip codes in both Brooklyn and Queens in which there is a rise in Covid-19 cases. Most of these neighborhoods have a large population of Orthodox Jews. Some have claimed that the city’s response is anti-Semitic.
My personal reaction is the claim is mixed. If I felt it was truly anti-Semitic response, I would be direct in saying so. But it is not antisemitism, it is common sense. If anything, their reactions only amplify the anti-Semitic lies and imagery. Being learned in the text and customs of any religion does not stop this disease. Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently will stop this disease.
However, the residents of these zip codes are not completely to blame. If the news reports are true, there are not enough Yiddish speaking tracers to reach out to the community. That failure falls firmly on the shoulders of the Mayor and other officials.
The problem with Covid-19 is that common sense and logic are replaced by fear and anxiety. While those responses are normal, given the circumstances, they will not help us in the long run. We need a clear head and a well constructed plan if we are able to return to some sense of normalcy.
We live in a world in which antisemitism and misogynistic views still have a hold on us. But there is still hope that both can be overturned.
Last week, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s funeral was held in Washington D.C. As I listened, my pride in her accomplishments as a Jew and a woman were just as prominent as my tears.
She is an icon for so many of us who feel marginalized and pushed aside because of who we are. Listening to Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt speak the ancient Jewish prayers, I had a feeling that in spite of the hatred that still exists, there is light and love at the end of the tunnel. We can look past labels and see each other’s humanity. We only need to open our eyes and our minds.
Though Judge Ginsburg is no longer physically with us, her legacy will last forever.
Most people know something about the Holocaust. It is one of the most well known events in recent history.
On TikTok, some users have released videos pretending to be victims of the Holocaust. Known as “trauma porn”, the response is outrage and disgust. The young people who are producing these videos claim that they are using this form of social media to educate their followers about the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews.
If nothing else, these kids get an A for effort. Teaching the Holocaust is not easy, regardless of the age of the student. With the rise of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, it has become more important than ever that the lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten.
But I wish they had been a little more sensitive in their portrayal of the victims. The response would have certainly, I think, been more appreciative instead of critical.
When the Internet and social media took off decades ago, they both seemed to be a beacon of freedom of speech and communication. We would speak to and (virtually) meet people who we might otherwise not meet and become a better world.
But while the technology has changed, the world has not.
While the social media giants claim that they are all for freedom of expression, they continue to ignore the elephant in the room. That elephant is racism and antisemitism that continually flows from various tweets and posts.
Twitter, while claiming that hate speech is not allowed on the platform, does not prevent Iranian officials from threatening Israel with annihilation via tweets.
I wish it was easy to remove ourselves from social media. But, they are so much of a part of lives that to do so would be akin to cutting off a limb. The only solution is that the people who run the social media platforms follow through on their terms of service. The question is, will they?
Antisemitism is a disease. How does one route out a disease from one’s body? You hit with medicine. In this case, the medicine is truth and the power of the average person.
In response to the antisemitic posts appearing on Twitter and Instagram, a boycott has been called on both platforms for 48 hours starting this morning.
There is a distinct line between freedom of speech and spewing hate. Until the people who run the social media world realize this and follow the rules they created, they will be as guilty as the ones who spew racist and antisemitic lies.
I know that this boycott will be difficult. But if we do not move forward with the boycott, the message that racism and antisemitism is acceptable will continue it’s destructive grasp on this world.
In the Star Wars film series, Yoda was the character whose sage advice went far beyond the limits of the movie screen. One of the quotes is as follows:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
These days, one would have to be living under a rock to see the rise in antisemitic hate crimes. Unfortunately, some of this is due to the sharing of ancient and bloodthirsty lies by foolhardy celebrities. Stephen Jackson is one of these celebrities.
In New York City, Jewish teenager Mark Shepard tried to bridge the divide and talk some sense into Jackson.
Mark is the kid we need right now. By reaching out to Jackson in the way he did, his attempt to build bridges does more than any law can do. Will this get the ball rolling and create the monumental change needed to finally rid the world of the antisemitic b*llsh*t? No, but a simple conversation is sometimes all that is needed to create real and lasting change.
Antisemitism is a disease that has haunted humanity for thousands of years. Just when we think it has finally died down forever, it rears its ugly head once more.
This past week, the hashtag #JewishPrivilege has been circulating throughout Twitter in response to false and age old accusations. I’d like to talk about my own so called “#JewishPrivilege”.
If this privilege includes having relations that were among the 6 million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust, I want none of it.
2. My immigrant ancestors came to America in the early 20th century with only the clothes on their backs and whatever they could carry. No one helped them to become upwardly mobile, they had to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Whatever “privilege” someone thought they had clearly did not exist.
3. I wouldn’t define privilege of having to hire security during religious services. Or seeing the shootings in Poway or Pittsburgh in the news.
4. Privilege is not defined as hearing about nearly 1400 brothers and sisters of your faith murdered in their homeland due to lies and hate.
5. If privilege is constantly watching Israel being attacked in the press and in the UN for so called “crimes against humanity” while other countries receive a slap on the wrist, that is not “privilege”.
Privilege is defined as: special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
Whoever thinks that the Jews are privileged needs to get their heads out the sand and read a history book.