This One's For the 97.6%.
I originally titled this, “This One’s For the 2.4%” because that's the percentage of Jews in America. Then I realized I had it backwards.
Photo: Enrique Macias via Unsplash
Do you know who tends to publish a Hanukkah gift guide each year? Not too many people. It’s not in most publishers’ best interests, pageview-wise. That’s why I always create one — if it’s meaningful to the few hundred people who do visit, I’ll be glad I made it.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have even caught me talking about it yesterday.
But I wasn’t really talking about Hanukkah gift guides, was I.
I was talking about support for people who celebrate Hanukkah.
(Took me a whole day to figure that out myself, so don’t worry; sometimes my own subtext is too sub for even my own brain.)
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Just four days ago, the Department of Homeland Security — you know, the “look out for terrorists” agency that formed after 9/11 — issued a an alert about the heightened threat of domestic terrorism against marginalized groups in the US, and specifically called out the "enduring threat" to Jewish communities.
Heightened threat! Enduring threat! Did you know that? Have you heard a lot about that?
Because I haven’t heard much at all, besides a few always-on allies, and those friends texting in private chat groups to say they haven’t heard much at all either.
So let me be totally clear:
Your Jewish friends and neighbors and family members are nervous. They are nervous, even if they’re not telling you they are, because we laugh so we can get on with things. That’s what we do.
(Allow Josh Gondelman and Bess Kalb to show you the way quite perfectly.)
We laugh and we eat and we raise our kids and we complain about the burger that came out medium instead of medium-rare at the diner and we debate the judgment of people who toast fresh bagels and we hug a lot and we drop Yiddish words and we shop for Hanukkah / Christmukkah / the Solstice and we worry about our parents and we get super competitive at Jackbox and we laugh some more.
And somewhere in between that all, we’re also expected to find the time to fight actual nazis all over again and would like some help please.
So here’s a nudge or seven for what you can do:
Support your Jewish friends and family and neighbors.
Speak out against anti-semitism when you see it. If you don’t see it yourself, find those who hear the dog whistles — they’ll tip you off.
Donate to an organization like Jews of Color Initiative or MAZON: A Jewish response to hunger, or Indivisible, or Dayenu for climate action, or Bend the Arc, which is a progressive org fighting for all Americans held back by white supremacy and racism, and is the latest addition to my list of favorite non-profits. Of which there are many. Black and brown Americans, the AAPI community, immigrants and refugees of all kinds also need support, and Bend the Arc is right there in it.
Call on your elected leaders to say something. The silence, especially from the GOP, has been deafening. No wait…it’s been immoral. Or wait, nasty as hell. Yeah. That’s a better way to describe the silence — nasty as hell.
Listen to Rachel Maddow’s Ultra Podcast because holy… I’ll leave it at that.
Follow @auschwitzmuseum and @holocaustmuseum on your social media channels of choice. Visit their websites too.
And please, please talk to your kids about anti-semitism beyond the Holocaust. Because as much as we can #neverforget, there’s been a lot of bad shit in the 80 years since.
For perspective: Jewish people display menorahs in their windows on Hanukkah in part because it’s an act of bravery. Do you know any Americans who feel “brave” placing a Christmas tree where their neighbors can see it? I don’t know the number, but I don’t think it’s close to 97.6%.
Another reminder of the power of words-your words-and how they can promote healing if only we listen.
Very much appreciate this. My synagogue was firebombed last year, and my workplace was hit with antisemitic fliers. I choose to be a proud Jew but I have no illusions about the threat. It's very real.