On October 15, 2020, Bari Weiss, the journalist who resigned from the New York Times, no longer willing to tolerate the anti Jewish biases which she noted and to which she was subjected, published a piece called “Stop Being Shocked,” in Tablet. In this article, Ms. Weiss expresses surprise at the Jewish community’s failure to acknowledge the growing intolerance of Jews and Zionism in present day America. In support, I offer some of my own thoughts on this disturbing subject.
Way back in the fifties, when I was a student at Esther Schoenfeld High School on the lower East Side of New York, we studied a book of Jewish history written in Hebrew, imported from Israel and taught by our beloved teacher, Morah Altuskey. It was a very small book, printed on very cheap paper but I cherished it until it finally crumbled and could no longer be salvaged. Each chapter began, "Vedarach Hashemesh Vezarach Hashemesh - The sun set on one Jewish community and rose on another."
So it was with the Rhineland, Spain, Portugal, Poland and so forth, all through Jewish history, down through the ages.
The sun is setting for American Jews. It was inevitable. I wish I could write as eloquently as Bari Weiss, but I can’t, I speak and write in Bronx English peppered with Yiddish. There is a Yiddish expression, "Doss zelbeh kallah ahndersh geshlait - the same bride, just dressed differently." Anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, anti-hareidim, all euphemisms for anti-Semitism.
America is entering a revolutionary phase. Although the so called ghettoes all across America have been smoldering for decades, they were left unattended or unmanaged. Now these fires have erupted into flames forming movements to tear down, destroy, eliminate history, eliminate SAT, eliminate white privilege, eliminate what have you. This is a movement may in part be a result of despair and hopelessness, but it is fueled on by lawlessness and driven by cunning manipulators with their own agendas. The skewed thinking is since we believe we cannot achieve and succeed in so called white America as it exists, we will take by force and derive benefits by other unconventional, lawless means.
We Jews always head the target list for attack. Why? For the same reasons we held that honored position in Germany, Austria, in every country on the face of the globe. Cancel culture is part of this thinking, especially our culture, not unlike the Nazis ripping apart Torah scrolls. A culture of “Thou shalt not,” needs to be destroyed else one cannot loot, steal, burn, take wrongfully what is not yours.
America has failed miserably, for whatever reasons, in addressing the needs and wants of inner city populations, mostly black, and now America is under attack - but we, the Jews, are the first victims. Our being singled out and targeted has nothing to do with Zionism, Rabin, Israeli politics, hassidim, and everything to do with Jews as history’s favorite object of envy and scapegoating.
Many Orthodox Jews observe what is happening and where this is heading. A friend who applied for Aliyah wrote, “We are getting out before they throw us out.” Jews with little or no affiliation or understanding of Jewish history are having difficulty connecting the dots. Wasn’t that true of German Jews in the thirties?
Some Jews are surprised or shocked and some are in total denial. Remember, the esteemed Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched with Martin Luther King in the sixties yet when black Hollywood made the movie Selma depicting the event, Heschel was completely left out of the film.
Unfounded hysteria? Jewish paranoia? The Jewish Agency reports that American Jews are applying for Aliyah in record numbers. The sun may be setting for Jews in America but here in Israel, the sun is rising and every day, thanks to Hashem, growing stronger and brighter.
Lila Lowell grew up in NYC, earned an MSW and is a licensed certified clinical social worker (LCSW-C). She and her husband followed in their children's footsteps and made aliya from Montreal to Jerusalem 14 years ago. She is active in social welfare and in promoting Jewish Heritage and Zionist projects.