Tag : anti-semitism

The Lilith Blog

October 29, 2018 by

Carrying the Torah for Those We Lost in Pittsburgh

Scroll_2_(PSF)On Saturday, as I was sitting in synagogue during Shabbat services, someone began locking the doors of our shul. The shootings had just happened in Pittsburgh, and there was reason to fear that it could happen anywhere.

I have had mixed feelings about my relationship to Judaism and my specific relationship to worship, but Saturday’s events strengthened my resolve. As I heard the news of the eleven people who lost their lives, I thought about those people worshipping as I was before being gunned down.

Beyond the communal and cultural aspects of being Jewish, which I have always been proud of, I have been thinking about the meaning of Jews reading Torah—for the eleven that died, for Jews around the world on that same Saturday morning, and for me and my fellow Jews in a small synagogue outside of Washington, DC.

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The Lilith Blog

October 29, 2018 by

To My Friend, Whose Celebration Was the Day of a Massacre

We were at the mikveh on Friday, nine of us, seven celebrants and two attendants who witnessed our joy as you marked your birthday and a moment of pause in your high profile, high impact job. It was a soul-filled morning, saturated with reflections on some relationships that spanned decades, and some that were bright and new but still profound. 

You had never been to the mikveh, the ritual bath that cleanses and prepares Jews for many roles – that of sexual preparedness and procreation, that of convert, that of celebrant. Preparing for immersion strips you down to your barest place, with not a spot that can come between you and the waters. The waters which are rain waters, waters that have been a part of this earth for millennia, touching your skin, soothing your heart, marking your passage.

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October 3, 2018 by

I Say, “I’m Jewish.”

We Ate Wonder Bread

Hollander, beloved creator of the “Sylvia” cartoon strip, tells her own story in this new book (above). Her irony-laden, cigarette-smoking Sylvia is replaced here with autobiographical vignettes and pungent images from the cartoonist’s Jewish girlhood in Chicago.

Nicole Hollander

I remember going to the corner store for Wonder Bread. We were always admonished by our mothers not to squeeze the bread. If you squeezed it, it became a tiny wad and could not be used to make sandwiches or anything but spitballs.

A boy I recognize vaguely from school stands very close to me and hisses: “You killed Jesus.” I was of course frightened of him, his size and intensity, but I had been raised by an atheist and felt no guilt about something I didn’t think existed, like God. I was too young to say: “Really, the Jews killed Jesus, all of us? Did you ever see us in a room together trying to agree on anything?”

My experience of anti-Semitism was very limited as a child. We lived in a mainly Italian neighborhood, but the building we lived in was completely Jewish.

But I did hear slurs at neighborhood parties. I was a kid. I looked like all the other dark-haired kids and occasionally someone in the group would say someone “jewed” him down. “Jews have all the money, there are no poor Jews, Jews stick together.” I could feel the remark coming. I was on the alert. Here is a group of people who are among their own kind. Why should they be careful about what they say? Suddenly the remark is made and I feel the spotlight on me. I am frozen and yet highly alert, my mind is working at top speed.

The idea that I might let the remark pass is certainly tempting, but not an option. I have a duty to all those Jews who died in the camps.

I say: “I’m Jewish.” There is a terrible silence. These are nice

people. I know them all. They are ashamed. They apologize. They say they didn’t know. They didn’t mean it.

I feel the urge to reassure them that I will forgive them and that I am not permanently injured.

The moment passes, everyone starts laughing and talking again, but I could ruin it all in a minute.

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The Lilith Blog

September 12, 2018 by

Anti-Semitism Among the WASP Elite

The idea for my novel Not Our Kind was born at Vassar College, where I was a student in the 1970s, where there was enough visible diversity to make a Jewish girl feel she was not alone. I encountered plenty of Jews, both students and faculty. Yet while I didn’t experience much overt anti-Semitism, I felt keenly aware that Vassar had historically excluded people like me—I was the “not our kindof my eventual novel’s title. 

I could feel it in the manners, the mores, the very air around me. Vassar was a WASP institution and bastion, and I knew I didn’t entirely belong. In fact, it was at Vassar that I acquired the nickname that became my pen name. I had commented to a friend that my Hebrew first name and Polish surname felt all wrong and that I should have been called Katherine Anne Worthington; he jokingly responded by calling me Kitty. It’s a name that stuck. 

The anti-Semitism at Vassar was occasionally overt—y648my freshman roommate casually noted, “Well, your people did murder our Lord,” a remark for which I then had no ready reply. But it was the more passive, almost nonchalant anti-Semitism that stung most. I remember an English lit class in which we’d been reading Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot and I said that I found the stereotypical characterizations of Jews in their poetry—greedy, money-grubbing, hook nosed and so forth— upsetting. A fellow student raised his hand and said, “Oh, well, that’s what everyone was like back then,” as if that should have cancelled out my discomfort, and made it, somehow, all right. And then there was the memorable evening that I went to hear a lecture on 18th century Rococo painting that was to be given by a well-regarded scholar visiting from Germany. Before he came to the lectern, someone from the Art History department read a short bio by way of introduction. I don’t know what I expected to hear, but it surely wasn’t that during World War II, this man had been a high ranking official—a commander, a general, I don’t recall which—in the military.  A Nazi, in other words, though the word was not actually said.

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April 12, 2018 by

Jewish Lesbian Feminist Goes Undercover to Report on the Alt-Right

When award-winning journalist Donna Minkowitz attended a conference sponsored by the innocuously-named American Renaissance organization last summer, she knew she would be rubbing elbows with leaders of the alt-right.

Minkowitz, a self-described “secular, Jewish, lesbian feminist and leftist,” told Eleanor J. Bader about covering the event for Political Research Associates, an independently-funded social justice think tank based in Somerville, Massachusetts. She also spoke about her earlier interactions with conservative organizations.

Eleanor J. Bader: You began reporting on the right-wing back in the 1990s. How and why did you get started on this beat?

Donna Minkowitz: I was the Village Voice’s reporter on LGBT issues, and when the anti-gay Christian right started to become active again in the 1990s, I found myself becoming increasingly terrified… I decided to cover it for Out Magazine. I was in my late 20s at the time and went completely undercover—I wore conservative, feminine dresses and a very femme-y wig. It was a really intense few days.

EJB: Did this year’s AmRen conference have a particular theme?

DM: The main message was that white people are smarter and better than everyone else and if only these “inferior” people of color were not around to drag them down, they could achieve the great things they imagine. AmRen says it welcomes Jews, but anti-Semitism was at the conference—it was hiding in plain sight. Eli Mosley, the head of the virulently anti-Semitic Identity Evropa, was at the conference and he and other attendees continually tweeted anti-Semitic messages; there were also loads of anti-Semitic books for sale, including The Turner Diaries, which advocates Jewish extermination…

EJB: Were you surprised by anything that you saw or heard?

DM: I was pretty stunned by how Handmaid’s Tale-ish their plans for women in the “white ethnostate” were.

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The Lilith Blog

July 2, 2014 by

Can a Non-Jewish Spouse “Step Away” From Jewish Fears?

 << I’m lucky that I could step away from it if I wanted to. It’s no secret that Jews are still subject to racial prejudices and abuse – something that will never be directed at me – only to the people I love.>>

  “Mummy…MUMMY…I’m Jewish!”  My four-year-old daughter has just returned from nursery and is prancing around the kitchen looking for something to do, expertly avoiding her younger brother, who is trying to get her to ‘read’ him a story.

  “Yes darling. You are.”

  “And my brother’s Jewish.  And Daddy’s Jewish.  And you’re Jewish.” 

  “No, I’m not Jewish.  Daddy is, but I’m not.” 

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