On the day after Election Day, a few of my Trump-voting friends called me. They knew that I was upset.
Their response: “Get a grip.” “Get over it.”
Thanks, but I don’t think I will.
Several years ago, we sojourned in South Orange, NJ. Rabbi Francine Roston and her synagogue reached out to us, and for a while, it became our synagogue, and she became our friend. Rabbi Roston is articulate, passionate, and compassionate. She has a beautiful family.
The Rostons wanted a life change. They moved to a small town out west, in big sky country. The Rostons found the other Jews in the area. They created a Jewish community.
It turns out that they have a neighbor that they hadn’t counted on — Richard Spencer, the alt-right leader, which is just a fancy way of saying “white nationalist.” The citizens of that town created an anti-bigotry group, Love Lives Here.
Spencer’s mother has a business in that town. The negative attention that her son has been getting has not been good for Mrs. Spencer’s business.
And that’s when it started. The bigots decided that Mrs. Spencer’s newborn business woes were the result of a Jewish conspiracy.
On Friday, a neo-Nazi web site issued a call to “take action” against the Jews of that town. The site listed the names, pictures, contact information, and addresses of alleged Jews In the town.
And then came the visuals — the photo-shopped photos that pinned a Nazi era yellow star on Rabbi Roston.
I am not getting a grip. I am not getting over it. And neither should you.
Jews often ask: “Can it happen here?” It depends on what “it” is. Government sponsored round ups, and Jews interned in concentration camps, a la Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America?”
But as for mob hatred, and psychological “pogroms?”
Absolutely. Ever since the election, there has been a spreading virus of hate.
Is Trump personally responsible? Absolutely not.
But the election has seriously compromised the American immune system that had protected us against this garbage.
Amazing: Some Jews on the right are in denial over what is happening. Oh, they agree that there is anti-Semitic rhetoric, but they believe that it has absolutely nothing to do with the election.
I have heard that kind of denial before. Jewish leftists discount the anti-Israel — and yes, anti-Semitic — rhetoric of some of their supposed friends.
Those on the left and on the right are equally myopic about the anti-Semitism that exists among those who are, in some ways, their allies.
It is unbelievable what Jews on the right are saying about the post-Trump hate wave.
Some say that they doubt that there has been any real increase in hate crimes. But, in fact, those crimes just keep on coming. In recent days, red spray-painted swastikas have appeared in neighborhoods in Long Island, New York – complete with pleas to “Make America White Again.”
A synagogue in Tallahassee, Florida, has increased security after receiving three letters anonymous letters filed with anti-Semitic rhetoric.
And the organizations that respond to such vile acts? Some Jews have declared war on those organizations, as well.
Some say that the ADL has become an extreme leftist organization — because it has the massive chutzpah to criticize this new administration. On Facebook, some have accused the ADL of falsifying the number of incidents as a fundraising technique.
You don’t like Jews being photo-shopped with yellow stars? Well, David Friedman, Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, can turn you into a kapo. That is what this prominent rabbi’s son calls Jews who disagree with him on Israeli policies.
So, yes – “it” can happen here. “It” is the targeting of Jews by Jew-haters.
And “it” is the Othering of Jews by Jews – the importing of vile rhetoric by Jewish leaders who should know better, the tearing asunder of our communal tallit.
First, all American Jewish organizations must speak out about what is happening. We scream “Never again!” But, “it” is happening again. It is affecting real Jews and real lives.
Ask yourselves the question: WWED – what would Elie (Weisel) do?
Second, Jews need to continue their outreach to those groups, like Muslims and immigrants, who are facing real threats to their personal safety and security in this country. It’s not all about us.
Third, the gentile residents of that small town where the Rostons live — have stood up against hate.
They could learn from what happened in Billings, Montana.
In 1993, white supremacists moved in, spewing hate mail, death threats and vandalism against Native Americans, blacks and Jews.
The town responded. Thousands of citizens pasted menorahs in their windows in a show of solidarity. Others marched with menorahs.
The story inspired books, articles, a Life magazine photo spread and the 1995 documentary “Not In Our Town” by California filmmakers Patrice O’Neill and Rhian
May the good people of this country, this world, and their town give strength to the Roston family.
Because when it comes to hate – no, I am not getting over it. I am not getting a grip.
And neither should you.