There are days when I just want to turn off my social media feeds for a day. I’ve had enough! It’s absolutely horrifying what’s happening to my people. The Jewish People. All across the globe.
A video shows a group of drunk young people breaking into a synagogue in London threatening to kill all the Jews. An Israeli journalist pretends to be religious, dons a kippa (skullcap) and walks through the streets of Paris. What ensues in the footage is horrifying. Passerbys spit on the ground and curse him as he walks by. Similar behavior occurs in other countries while in the Netherlands and Denmark, all is quiet. Nazi memorabilia is sold on the streets of Bulgaria while victims of anti-semitism are attacked and killed in the streets of New York and Miami. Oh and I almost forgot..the rampant anti-semitism that is happening all across US college campuses with a large concentration happening in California.
This has got to stop! Enough!
It’s horrifying and reminds me that we haven’t learned much from the atrocities of World War Two.
Every year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I can’t help but look at the pictures of the 1.4 million children who perished. The children! Those precious children. As a mother, my heart aches. If I could have taken them all in to risk my own life, I would! My mother’s family was lucky to have escaped the Nazis in the 1930’s. They smelt the power of the Nazi regime and knew they had to escape before it was too late. They sailed for Panama where my grandfather sold dry goods to the U.S. Marines stationed there. And when they had enough money, they fled to the United States.
Jews have had enough. Anti-semitism is a force that grows daily. The evidence can be seen in racial beatings, attacks, and killings everywhere.
Israel, the homeland for the Jews and her safety is questionable. There is a hate movement brewing daily. If we give up our power and faith like our people did in the Holocaust, the enemy will have won.
We cannot afford to let that happen. At all.
By reading the genre of personal story or memoir, we can fortify ourselves. There are many notable memoirs through the Jewish Book Council. Be proud of our Jewish heritage and identity. We should continue to attend rallies that vociferously speak of Israel’s right to exist. Sadly, there has been a 1,500 percent rise in Israelis killed in terrorist attacks since last year. This year saw more hate and more death. 31 Israelis were brutally murdered by terrorists.
If our entire nation speaks against these hate crimes, it’s hard to single-handedly target us. I know, from years of living in Israel, how safe and yet, how vulnerable Israel is socially and politically…
We have realized that we cannot let history repeat itself although the numbers of deaths don’t lie. The lessons of the Holocaust, “let us never forget” are not enough. Words can only go so far. We need stories to open our hearts. We need Jewish and Israeli stories of hero’s journey to show how it’s possible to reach out to others with our life lessons. And each of those has unique life lessons pertinent to the Jewish people and the larger issues that concern us around the globe whether the author is Jewish or not.
In 1990, I left my hometown of New York City and a safe and comfortable life to volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces. I had no idea what the heck I was doing at the time. I was so vulnerable and young. But yet, I knew I was doing something important to support the country. I followed my heart, big time. From the moment I landed in Ben-Gurion airport, I knew I had come home even though I had no idea what cultural and emotional obstacles I would need to overcome. I emigrated from New York City. I was an outsider. Twenty-five years later, I am sharing the messages of my story of how it’s possible to embrace the values of another country that few on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean know very little about.
I could have ran back home and tell all my friends how horrible it was to live there as the standard of living back then was nowhere near living in a college dorm and eating cafeteria food. Instead, I stuck it through for twenty years and emerged stronger and more powerful. I had no choice but to think politically and voice my opinion. Israel is just that kind of country where you can’t afford to stay silent. Here, in America, you can. That’s why we Jews here on this side of the world, are suffering. Big time.
And so my story will hopefully educate the greater public now and more than ever, during this most urgent time of need.
Now, more than ever, it’s time for change. Because we know some things…we know what happens when forces of evil get stronger. We know we cannot afford to be the victims of terror any longer.
We know that the stories of the Holocaust have made their way into thousands of classrooms around the world. We know that stories work. They ARE the emotional DNA of our people and connect to the larger fabric and thread of our emotional and cultural history that we can gift to humanity.
Teachers are teaching Elie Weisel’s Night to build compassion and empathy. In the award winning movie Freedom Fighters, a young ambitious teacher from LA showed her “at-risk” students pictures of how the Germans depicted the Jews during World War Two to spark a heated discussion on moral injustice. Her students too harbored feelings of hate and injustice against their militant peers, and this lesson was one of many that helped put their feelings in perspective based on the lessons of history.
Until today, I remember how I broke down in an Israeli classroom as I tried to teach one of the most brutal scenes of Night. I couldn’t have gone any further without the help of my 12th graders…I wasn’t a mother then, but I cried and cried…
And now…for the truth…
The truth is that without the messages of stories, we are goners. We need to hear the truth! I am seeing what happens when we continue to speak out against these injustices as we blog, attend rallies and share our concerns and opinions on social media to promote tolerance and compassion. But that isn’t enough! Stories help reinforce a global message. When we connect deeply with a story’s message, we can help spread it.
Let’s use the power of stories to ignite compassion, love and tolerance.
I invite you to join a community where you can identify and support Jews around the world by connecting with the story of one heroine’s journey to serve in the Israel Defense Forces and change her own trajectory. Accidental Soldier is an online community that aims to educate and inspire people about how it’s possible to connect with the story of a foreign country and find a home. I guess you can say that through the “back-door” of a story, we can find our truth.
And when we are inspired by a story, we connect to the issues much more powerfully and personally than if we just read another horrifying news column about anti-semitism.
Spread the story. Speak against the evil. There’s power in education.