Reflections From a Jewish Woman Living Minutes From the Monsey Attack

Nobody knows if they will get to come home each night.

None of us knows if our kids will come home tonight.

Lately, it’s been on my mind even more.

The rise in anti-Semitic attacks, in my neighborhood synagogues, eateries that my teenagers often go get lunch from, or just randomly on the streets of New York towards people that look like my kids, family, and friends has accelerated tenfold over the last couple of days and weeks.

I don’t want to not come home tonight because someone decided I was somehow worthy of being subjugated to hateful violence.

I am terrified of sending my husband and kids out into their daily lives, worrying I won’t see them alive or well when the day is done.

I hate knowing that there is a target on our backs because of how we look, choose to live our lives, or what religion or nation we were born into.

What kills me inside is that I put in so much work in understanding hate and finding ways to understand how we are all connected to ourselves, to each other, to the earth we live on and the lives that get to share this space with us.

Still, no matter how well I understand the bases of hate, the reasons this can happen, and put in endless time into my own biases, I still can’t wrap my brain around the logic of a human willingly hurting or killing another human and that human you may be looking to hurt is me, or someone I love. It fills me with an endless amount of grief, rage, and, terror.

I don’t know if this will ever reach anyone who is already indoctrinated with that ideology of hate, or someone who sees fellow humans as sub-par or non-human for whatever reason, but if it does, know that I am just like you in so many ways.

I feel sad sometimes, and joyful at others, I struggle to pay my bills and get work, I worry about raising my kids and the health of my ailing parents, I sit with and struggle to untangle childhood trauma and abuse that often brings me sobbing to my knees. So while yes, I am Jewish, and for now the subject of your hate, I am also human first. I am sure if we sat down for coffee we would find common ground to cry about, rage about, and laugh about together.

So anyone that feels like a specific group of people is less than you, a target of your hate consciously, or beneath the surface, I beseech you to take a step back and try and revisit it. Meet me, meet someone you think you hate and get to know them close-up. See if that hate is still possible at that distance. If you still think anyone is inhuman enough to be a worthy victim of your punching, stabbing, and shooting, after you share your struggles, joys, and tears with each other, then I rest my case. I cry over the patterns in history that perpetuate like an endless loop we can never seem to get out of.

I don’t want to be hopeless.

I want to live with hope. I want the hope to be stronger than the terror. Join me in making that happen.

Coffee, anyone?

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  • Avatar photo Catholic Mom says on December 31, 2019

    This is a very touching piece, but I’m afraid that the solution it offers — “get to know me as a human being and you won’t be capable of hate” — is unrealistic. In almost all of the cases of homicidal hate crime in the US — regardless of what group it is directed against — the perpetrator is both somewhat (or a lot) mentally unstable and also under the influence of a delusional ideology.

    Consider the 2015 murder of 9 African Americans in a church by Dylann Roof. He spent one full hour in the church praying and reading the Bible with the people he was about to kill. What could be more “humanizing” of the victims than that? When he pulled out his gun someone yelled out to him why was he doing this and he said “”I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

    Aside from the obvious insanity of this statement on the face of it, consider that if you actually believed that black people were raping women and taking over the country, would you conclude that the best thing you could do in response would be to shoot 9 Bible-believing black people (including women) in a church? No amount of rationality or “getting to know people as fellow humans” is going to counter this level of craziness.

    I believe that the best that can be done is to 1) do as much as possible to prevent the spread of delusional ideology on the internet 2) offer the highest level of protection available to people who need it, and 3) take threats and threatening statements seriously and intervene before the person acts on them.


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