A pretty personal essay in Tablet magazine this week, about my new ambivalences and anxieties at a time when antisemitism is on the rise. (Again.)
Reading through your article I find many issues we tried to deal with educating three Jewish daughters in Syracuse NY and now watching our grandchildren grow up in Manhattan. We have areas of agreement and of disagreement which perhaps I can get down on paper. But I also read back onto your article mentioning Martin Luther King day and thought you might appreciate the following you tube. The first soloist, my daughter, is Cantor Shayna Postman (Town and Village Synagogue, NYC) a product in part of our attempt to raise a Jewish child including a traditional Conservative home, 4 years in a community Hebrew Day School, NCSY, USY, Camp Ramah, Syracuse University School of Music, Pardes in Jerusalem, and JTSA Miller Cantorial School. As Im sure you know it isn’t easy raising a Jewish child with both a committment to Judaism and to the American way of life:
It’s always a good thing to think about one’s privilege as a means of finding one’s gratitude –
> I have not talked to them about people increasingly hating on Jews because I have no idea what to say, or what utility the scary news has to their lives. Be more paranoid? Go through your daily life knowing that more people hate you than hated me when I was your age?<
Ever since this current president came into office, the racial toxicity of this country has reached all time highs. And, suddenly, our family had tons of boys. Nephews. Little brothers coming of age. The Ã¼ber-booeyman: the Black male.
I really had a hard time with my brother, when he turned twenty, going to junior college. He has developmental delays, and with the various shootings of young men of color, and the fact that the Sheriff has stopped him walking to school now four times, simply to ask him what he's doing– it's troubling and upsetting on myriad levels (I always wonder if his heavy stutter and lisp will one day not answer quickly enough…). BUT. I have the privilege of actually worrying TODAY, about my brother in this specific instance, instead of all the time. His life could be much worse, as could mine. It is a privilege to even realize he's vulnerable NOW, instead of knowing that indubitably, as bullets whiz overhead all the time.
I can't say I know what to do about that — I know what my mother does, turns into a 24-7 prayer machine. I think the best you can do, other than that, is live with deliberate gratitude and kindness, acknowledging who you are, and how it can be perceived as Other in the world, but understanding that people on a 1:1 basis more often judge you more on who they see you to be than what your label says you are.
Sometimes, it's just a tough, scary world.
I commented over at Tablet but thought maybe you (wisely) avoided reading them. Mine is totally innocuous, though – have you read the Penina Levine sequel? Penina Levine is a Potato Pancake. Only the sequel is available at the NYPL.
Btw, the interim editor-in-chief at Tablet is my brother-in-law. Small world.
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