There was a good article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the surge in antisemitism in the Bay Area titled, Even in Bay Area, Jewish residents face ‘drumbeat’ of antisemitism. But you can only read it if you are a subscriber. You can, however, read many articles about the issues on the website of the J-weekly.
I wish I could say that being in an interfaith family somehow protects you from antisemitism, but it doesn’t. A man who had converted to Judaism after marrying a Jewish woman was once asked in a workshop, “Why did you convert? You could have avoided antisemitism!” He replied, “What do you expect me to say if Nazis showed up at my door? Take my wife and kids, but leave me?”
The non-Jewish partner may not feel the intensity of worry that the Jewish partner feels. He or she may want to minimize fears in order to maintain peace in the home. But violence against Jews has increased and it is something we all have to deal with. It has also increased against all other minorities. If you are a Black Jewish lesbian you probably feel multiple layers of anxiety.
What can we do? STICK TOGETHER. Reach out to your family, friends and community. Don’t minimize the feelings of others. That won’t work. Ask specific questions – What are you afraid will happen? Where are you afraid to go? Are there people you try to avoid? If possible, help the individual to increase safety in their environment. Offer to go with them to places they must go, but fear to go alone. Analysis the possibility that the feared situations are real, are avoidable, or may be alterable. Don’t force anyone to do something that scares them.
Stand up for others. If you see someone being harrassed and feel you can safely intervene, speak up. If it isn’t safe, call the police. My husband was on public transportation and overheard a young man speaking inappropriately to his girlfriend. As he stood up to get off, he said to the young woman, “You can do better than that.” It was small, but it let the young man know that people were hearing him and let the young woman know, other people support you.
Years ago I was walking on Telegraph Avenue and a homeless man started threatening to follow me home and kill me. I was a young student and scared. Everyone around me ignored us – except one woman who dashed after me and asked, “Was he speaking to you!?” All I could get out was, “I guess so.” I don’t remember her words after that, only that she was appalled, supportive and walked with me for a bit.
Speak to others. Talk to your rabbi or other clergy. Give someone a hug or a smile or an elbow bump.
Be smart, be safe.
I’m thinking of you.