When Hate is Down the Hall

I haven’t been able to write for a few days.

  1. we’re in the process of moving to our house. Which has totally taken over my life.
  2. I’ve known what I wanted my next post to be about, but I wasn’t sure how to write about it.

I guess I’ll start with the fact that we didn’t put our menorah out this year in our window. We always did, but this year was different and I’m still not ok with why I felt we needed to do it.

It was a comment from a Trump-supporting resident a few floors below us that made us make the decision. She was talking to some other residents about how you couldn’t let Jews move close to you because they drive your property values down. How proudly she announced she wouldn’t live near a Jew. Scarier was the silence from the people who she was saying it to. I scurried by them, wondered how we got here and decided I wouldn’t risk it, menorah would be on the table this year.

I don’t think that resident would do anything, but those around her that night we were coming in, in their silence we knew that if something did happen they probably weren’t coming to help us.

At this point in history, I’m not ok feeling like we can’t practice or show anything Jewish in our very non-Jewish community. I’m not ok that our synagogue sends out community safety reports listing all the precautions they’re taking. The doors shouldn’t have to be locked all the time, but they are, and they have to be.

There have been over one hundred bomb threats to Jewish institutions, people killed for their brown skin, women attacked for covering themselves. There were 1,094 biased related incidents in the month after Trump was elected.  It’s been so widely reported even after the election and Trump’s first month Slate created an updating list of hate in America.

When leaders have nothing to say when people are actually killed by the hate speech and threats that they haven’t disavowed, it’s an issue. And it’s an issue for all people who fall into a minority group and those closest to them. Because when a president has nothing to say about an Indian man killed by a man saying “get out of my country” after encouraging anti-immigration rhetoric and installing travel bans you can’t be certain that you’re safe.

The othering based on religion is one I’ve never experienced. But J has. As has his family and his ancestors. Their tight knit Jewish community protected them from feeling like an other, but it wasn’t a wall from hatred. When he’s worried, as someone who has experienced religious hate, I know I should be too. Anytime you’re the religious majority partner, you can’t write off the minorities experience of those things. They’re happening, we know they’re happening. Majorities need to use their power and their group to take action and speak up for those who can’t.

If we don’t speak up now, who will be left to speak up for us?

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