81 years ago tonight, the semi-comfortable world that European Jews knew came to an end.
Up until Kristallnacht or the Night of the Broken Glass, the uptick in antisemitism that German Jews had experienced was mostly non-violent. November 9-10, 1938 changed everything. Jewish synagogues, homes, and schools were destroyed. Around 100 German Jews were killed and 30,000 German Jewish men were sent to concentration camps.
Given the current political and social climate that we live in in 2019, I feel like I have to ask if it can happen here, in the United States?
The scary answer is yes. The shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and Chabad of Poway in California occurred less than a year apart. In my hometown of New York City, the number of hate crimes against Jewish residents is rising quickly.
I sometimes take for granted that I live in a country that guarantees me the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I also take for granted that I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world.
I wish I could say that I live in a better world that German and European Jews lived in. But I don’t. Antisemitism is still alive and well. Until such day that antisemitism is dead and buried, a small part of me will be concerned that another Kristallnacht can happen here.
Today we remember the six million Jews who were tortured, starved and slaughtered merely because of their faith.
Over the years, we have said never again. But the phrase “never again” feels empty. Between the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue last fall and the shooting at Chabad of Poway synagogue this past weekend, I am reminded that antisemitism is alive and well in our world.
The same lies and hatred that killed my relations decades ago are responsible for the murders at both the Tree of Life and Chabad of Poway synagogues.
The picture above is from a memoir that my great-grandfather wrote about Dobromil, the shtetl that he grew up in. One of the reasons that my family is here today is because he immigrated to the United States in the early part of the 20th century. When he left for the United States, he left behind his widowed father, his siblings and their families. They all perished in the Holocaust.
I wish we could say never again. I wish that we could say that antisemitism or hatred/prejudice of any kind is the past. But it is still part of our present. Until we face this kind of hatred and erase it from our world, the phrase “never again” will continue to feel empty and worthless.
If one had to look in the dictionary to define A Woman of Valor, Ms. Kaye’s face would be underneath the definition. In saving the life of the Rabbi while sacrificing hers, she joins the ranks of Jewish women across history who have fought and died for Jews across the world and across the generations.
May her memory be a blessing not just to those who knew and loved her, but to all of us. May her courage inspire us to fight against hate and prejudice. My prayer is that one day, sacrifices like Ms. Kaye’s will be confined to the past.
A week ago yesterday, which was Easter Sunday, bombs went off across Sri Lanka. When all was said and done, hundreds were dead and many more were injured.
Today, there was a shooting closer to home. In San Diego, one person was killed and three were injured in a shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue. Today is also the last day of Passover.
I hate to ask what is a simplistic question, but can’t we all get along? Is it so impossible to just live and let live? Why must we choose who is worthy and who is unworthy based on factors such as race, religion, sexuality, etc? At the end of the day, we are all human beings. We breathe the same way, we eat the same way and we use the bathroom in the same way.
For once, I wish I could watch the news without hearing that someone has been attacked or killed because of who they are.
May the memory of the person killed be a blessing to those who loved them.
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