As some of you may know, last week (at the time of writing this piece) was Yom HaShoah-Holocaust Remembrance day. As I sat in the Berlin Chapel on Sunday night, and stood in a circle in the middle of campus Monday night, listening to my peers talk about the Holocaust, I could not help but think about what being Jewish means now.
Anti-semitism is on the rise. Jews are under attack. It is not the physical as much, though. No, it is mental. College campuses are the new hotbeds of anti-Semitism. There was a 45 percent in anti-Semitism on American college campuses. 45 percent. Let that sink in. Anti-semitic incidents are on the rise, but it seems to be more insidious. Anti-semitism is hiding behind a veil of liberalism, using anti-Zionism to justify anti-Semitism. Not all of it is malicious, and much of it is a misunderstanding. Society often dismisses these fears, probably because we are a model minority and many of us have integrated pretty damn well. Many people do not realize that over half of reported hate crimes were against Jews, who make up 2 percent of the population.
So, in the wake of the Holocaust, I am scared. I am scared for the future. I am scared about what this means for Jews. But, I also have hope.
Throughout our history, Jews have been resilient, and we have been strong. We have survived. We survived slavery in Egypt, the Crusades, the Pogroms, the Holocaust. We are strong, and that gives me hope. We continually change and adapt. One of the things I love most about Judaism is that we adapt and change and that there are so many ways to practice it. You do not even need to believe in G-d to call yourself a Jew. We reach out and protect each other. We love each other. We thrive on other people. We educate, we debate, we think. We reach out and help our neighbors. We are strong.
Yes, I also live in a bubble. Yes, I grew up surrounded by Jews, and go to a school filled with Jews. And yes, in a way, that is purposeful, because we understand each other. Because, sometimes, no one can really understand Jews like other Jews. And that is not to put anyone down or exclude anyone, but that is just the way it is.
So, in the wake of the Holocaust, in the wake of skyrocketing anti-Semitism, yes, I am scared. But I am also hopeful. We are unique, we are strong. We are Jews, and we are messy, imperfect, and diverse. And that is what is important.