Exactly six months to the day after congregants at Tree of Life, a Conservative Synagogue, were gunned down by a White Supremacist, another of his ilk, on the other end of the country, showed up at a Chabad House, an Orthodox Shul, with the same intent: to kill as many Jews as possible.
As the anti-semites on the right have grown in number and brazenness in recent years, so too have the anti-semites on the left. First Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted about dual loyalty and the financial control the Jewish lobby has over the U.S. Then, Democrats weren’t able to pass a resolution that only called out anti-semitism. And the New York Times, has published not one but TWO anti-semitic cartoons in the last few days.
Our enemies make no distinction between us Jews, but we do. We see outward appearances: What kind of yarmulke? What kind of head covering? What kind of beard? No yarmulke? No beard? No head covering? We see observance levels, beliefs, politics. We contend that our way of living and practicing is the ideal way, while the others are misguided at best. We judge. Sometimes we blame and disparage our fellow Jew.
Our enemies come from both sides of the political aisle. They hate each other, but they can unite in their hatred of us. We can’t stand those across the aisle. We can’t find anything in common with them. Even though they are our bothers and sisters.
Our enemies don’t forget that we’re Jewish, even though, we often try to be less Jewish and blend into the larger world around us. We keep our observance quiet or maybe we have decided that observance is outdated and unnecessary in our modern world.
Our enemies want us to leave. To go back to where we belong. But we have every excuse to not return to the land of our forefathers. The language is too difficult to master, the jobs are too hard to find, the heat is too much to take, the culture is too challenging to adjust to. No – we are comfortable right here.
If our enemies are blind to our outward differences and our inward differences, perhaps we should be too. Perhaps, we too should say “A Jew is a Jew is a Jew,” and not notice the things that divide us.
If our enemies can come from across the political spectrum to unite in their hatred of us, perhaps we too can reach across the political spectrum to unite in our love for one another.
If our enemies see us as different, perhaps we should see ourselves as different too. Not different in an arrogant way, but different in a way that means we have a unique role in this world as Jews that no one but us can accomplish. Perhaps we should strive to be different and feel pride in those differences.
If our enemies want us to leave these foreign lands we’ve made into our homes and “go back to where we came from,” maybe we should stop making excuses and find a way to make aliyah with dignity and joy, instead of God forbid, having to flee one day.
Anti-semites are awful, hate-filled, lowlifes. But maybe, just maybe we could learn a few things from them.