Facing The Darkness Together
"We cannot hide. We are Jews. And we are seen as Jews,” our Rabbi said in Shabbat services last night. "Assimilation has never saved us.”
I am a Jew. I affirm that. I own that. I am proud of that, if fact. “For being silent and small will only get you blown over by the winds of hate,” Rabbi Ryan Bauer spoke so eloquently. I joined over a thousand brave souls who chose to #ShowUpForShabbat at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, to unite in solidarity with our Jewish people, to pray together only one short week after the horrific massacre in Pittsburgh, to mourn the passing of eleven beautiful human beings, to choose a path of love and light against all odds. I sat alongside my mother and among dear friends in the congregation where I was raised — listening, singing, thinking, praying, exercising my right of religious freedom in a synagogue.
“Prejudice is a thought, discrimination is the action,” Rabbi Bauer affirmed, addressing why the response to this shooting, this hate crime, this anti-Semitic attack feels notably different, even amid the spike in hate Jews are facing as a people, as communities, as a nation. We cannot change one crazed individual’s thoughts, we cannot be upset by what one sick mind may think, we cannot force someone to change their views. But that is an entirely different situation than if said person holds the highest office in the most powerful nation on earth.
When a government is not only clearly prejudiced against segments of its population, but actively discriminates against certain groups, elevates the rhetoric and standing of fringe extremists, and does not protect all of its citizens, it presents a grave problem. That is where we now find ourselves, in relation to Jews and many other minorities living in the United States today who are discriminated against, persecuted, oppressed, targeted, excluded.
Anti-semitism being effectively condoned, if not enacted, by the state "strikes a fear that most of us cannot remember.” Rabbi Bauer’s words silenced the sanctuary and took my mind to Nazi Germany before the holocaust, the darkest and most painful of times which have always felt unfathomable to me as an American Jew.
But Nazis are not a thing of the past. Nazis are here. In Pittsburgh, in Charlottesville, in our very own cities and towns — in the Bay Area, as Rabbi Bauer detailed in his story. In the United States. In 2018.
How we face that reality, that hatred, that darkness is up to us.