Because Anti-Semitism Still Exists

Because Anti-Semitism Still Exists

The desecration of over 150 headstones in a Missouri Jewish cemetery reminds me of our fate and of the need for action.
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I’m from Bedford, NH, which is one of the whitest, most Christian places I’ve ever been to with little economic hardship and very little racial diversity. I was one of probably less than 10 Jews in my high school, including my younger brother and a set of triplets. In Bedford, I faced some anti-Semitism, though it was always pretty benign. For example, in elementary school, when I was riding the bus on the way to school, I was once made fun of for wearing a Jewish star necklace, and the kids doing it intentionally sang Christmas songs in my face for the rest of the ride just to make sure I knew which religion and culture was dominant. I remember going home that day and crying to my mom, asking her why these kids didn’t seem to like Jewish people. I couldn’t understand why my religion had to influence their perception of and actions towards me. She replied by telling me that some people were anti-Semitic and “for whatever reason” didn’t like Jews.

She said that a lot of times.

These kids had parents who were anti-Semitic too, and that because they were raised around these beliefs, they just didn’t know better. Her advice was to ignore them; they simply did not and would not understand.

As I grew up, I encountered less blatant anti-Semitism, though I could still sense when people didn’t like Jews. Whether it be in the hallway overhearing comments about how we should just “burn all the Jews” like what happened in the Holocaust or in class discussions about the Middle East, I could tell that anti-Semitism was a problem that was far from over, even if people weren’t picking on me specifically for being Jewish.

College has been such a blessing because, for the first time in my life, I am constantly surrounded by Jews. Around 25% of students at WashU are Jewish. However, that doesn’t deny the existence of anti-Semitism on campus; it is most definitely still there. Yet college is a bit of a bubble, for there have been no violent hate crimes against Jews on campus. I can’t say the same for the Greater St. Louis area.

This Monday, February 20, authorities discovered that over 150 headstones were toppled or damaged at Chesed Shel Emeth, a Jewish cemetery in University City, MO. It is suspected that there is an organization behind this crime, rather than a lone vandal. Some of the headstones were for people who survived the Holocaust, though regardless of the people’s locations and lives, “it’s never okay to desecrate the dead,” remarked Golda Burke, a woman whose grandparents are buried in the cemetery. This is frightening, and it is even scarier that this potential hate crime comes at a time when Jewish community centers across the nation are facing bomb threats.

Yet I am also terrified that when my friend shared the link to the article detailing the crime on Facebook, multiple people replied that she’s just blaming Trump for the event. These kids made some unintelligent comments about how they “r having some fun” and how “lefties [Democrats]” don’t understand their views. They then proceeded to have a conversation about finger painting and hanging out and “deez nuts,” which does not at all change one of the world’s most controversial and persistent problems.

Acts of hate are acts of cowardice because the people who commit them (whether it be desecrating Jewish gravestones or attempting to delegitimize the situation through Facebook comments) can’t articulate their beliefs and confront diversity through productive conversation. Instead, they resort to anonymous crimes and hateful social media comments. In a sense, the social media comments are just as bad as the physical crime because both perpetuate an extremely unjust situation that plagues our world.

The day after the desecration was discovered, I visited the cemetery. As I walked along the rocky ridge that lined the cemetery, I was able to peer over the gate and see stones that were certainly not as intact as the ones I was standing on, for dozens of these 1000 pound physical representations of the weighty memories of so many incredible people were lying on the ground. After I had hopped down from the ridge, a news reporter asked me what my perspective was on the uncertain origin of the incident, for authorities' investigation is still continuing. She was wondering if I would've been more upset if it was a trashy and thoughtless action by some kids who had nothing better to do or if it really was a hate crime. To be honest, I do not know which I think is worse, but there is some strange comfort in knowing that there at least was an intention behind the action, however horrid it may be.

I met one lady who said that her whole family is buried in the cemetery. She was glad that their gravestones were, fortunately, untouched, but she was deeply saddened by the destruction of stones from the oldest part of the cemetery. Many of these stones, she said, were really beautiful, with faces carved into them and meaningful words engraved. If the people who committed this crime knew this and understood at least a little bit of Jewish history and fully valued the life of each person on this earth, I don't think that this tragedy would've happened.

I know that this is just a shot in the dark, a single article in a stream of hundreds, of thousands, of millions of articles out there, anti-Semitic or otherwise. Yet I write because it’s important to me that people read and learn and converse about these major global issues. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that it is a legitimate problem, and the second is conversation. It is my hope that this article will provoke more conversation so that we can create some real change.

So stop thoughtlessly commenting on social media; really think through anything that you put online. Stop sitting back and letting anti-Semitism happen. Take action, so that anti-Semitic crimes, from the Holocaust to Facebook comments to vandalizing Jewish cemeteries, don’t happen anymore. And have a conversation. #ifnotnowwhen
Cover Image Credit: Personal

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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You Ain’t Waiting For God To Bring You Your Dinner, You Get Up And Go Cook It

My words often get jumbled and don't make sense, so I figured writing it would help me come across clearly.

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Dear guy friends of mine,

I want you to know how grateful I am for your friendship. Having close guy friends has helped me better understand men and learn how the male species operates. I've been able to ask you so many questions and you've responded with thoughtfulness, kindness, grace, and honesty. I appreciate your willingness to talk to me.

I want to encourage you in something, and with some of you I have tried, but I think I came across as a little crazy. From what I've been told by married women, guys are very afraid of actual crazy. You want your girl to have some crazy (because all women have at least a little bit of crazy), but you don't want her to be, like, crazy. I get that and respect that.

I want to encourage you to ask girls out. It's scary. You're afraid of rejection. I know this because several of you have told me so. I recently spoke with a guy who's been married for a few years and has a baby daughter. He told me that you guys are scared, you don't want to put your heart on the line and have it crushed. That's a good reason not to pursue girls: you'll remain safe and free from hurt if you don't put your feelings out there.

But here's the other side of it: You'll never find that girl if you never search for her. Now, I know that all things happen in God's timing and as imperfect humans, we can't force things to happen outside of God's timeline. However, Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas said this in a sermon several years ago:

"But something's happened in evangelical circles where if you're single you're supposed to not want to be married, but be content in a spot and that's somehow more glorifying than following God's wiring of you to want a mate. And so in the end what happens is that you walk around like a liar. I mean, poor young ladies! Almost all of them have been told, "As soon as you're content, God will send you a man." So you've got hundreds of thousands of women running around acting content! "I'm content, where is he?" You've got other guys going, "You know, I'm just gonna wait for God to bring me the right one." Well, you ain't waiting for God to bring you your dinner, alright? You get up and go cook it."

Pastor Chandler goes on to say that he's not telling the guys to go on the hunt and prowl. No! He's telling guys that they have a role to play in pursuing a woman to marry. Girls have a role to play, too. Girls can't just hang out with their girlfriends in hopes that they'll lock eyes with Prince Charming while in the grocery store or walking their dog in the park. No, girls need to build up the guys in their lives and respect them by letting the guys be guys and giving them opportunities to be gentlemen. That's what I appreciate about you guys, my guy friends. You are such gentlemen and I love that. Don't be afraid to ask out the girl that you think is sweet, cute, pretty, funny, kind, silly, honest, loyal, and the right amount of crazy. You've got this!

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