Yesterday 11 people were shot to death at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Many people are saying that Trump is responsible because he has incited violence with his fear- and hate-mongering rhetoric. Sure, it’s true he has encouraged it, but it may have also happened if Hillary had become President, because anti-Semitism is the sickness that never heals.
There are all sorts of “anti-isms,” from homophobia to Islamophobia to misogyny. I may be wrong, but I believe Anti-Semitism and misogyny have been around the longest, and women aren’t killed in mass numbers because we are needed alive to work, to be used for sexual gratification, and to reproduce.
Man, that sentence was a downer.
I’ve experienced anti-Semitism firsthand, mostly the mild variety that stems from ignorance. But I once moved out of a neighborhood six months after moving in because my son was hearing anti-Semitic comments at school and a neighbor was threatening us—waving his arms and yelling, “The only thing wrong with Hitler was he didn’t kill all you Jews!”
When I moved a year ago, I didn’t put up a mezuzah, which is a small case containing Torah verses. One is typically posted at each door to remind ourselves we are in a Jewish home.
I can’t put my finger on why; I just had a feel about the neighborhood. And then my neighbor across the street unfurled a flag that says, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
This phrase is associated with people who believe the government is planning to take away their guns, but I think it’s all part and parcel of hatred and fear.
The fact that anti-Semitism has been around as long as Judaism doesn’t mean Trump isn’t a problem. Some will say he can’t be anti-Semitic because his son-in-law and daughter are Jewish. I think people have an incredible ability to bend their beliefs so that people close to them are “the good kind” of Jews while all others are “the bad kind.” And when Trump incites violence against journalists, immigrants, his opponents, women, gays, and Muslims, all the violent nut cases out there hear is “others.” As they say, “haters gonna hate.”
Should we start posting armed guards in synagogues, as Trump has suggested? Guess what—synagogues have been doing that for decades, but there is an opening this shooter exploited. At the synagogue I don’t go to (that’s a joke), we have off-duty police officers on the doors during the High Holidays. Most other days, the doors are locked and you have to identify yourself and be buzzed in. But on days when there is a celebration such as a wedding, bar mitzvah, or baby naming (as was the case in Pittsburgh), the doors are unlocked and there’s no guard.
I keep thinking of that poor baby and his parents, whose day of celebration will always be marred by this memory.
In Sydney, I walked past the Great Synagogue a couple times hoping to get a look inside, but it was locked up tight and there was no information about when it might be open. I knew I could go on a Saturday morning during Shabbat services, but my schedule didn’t align with this so I had to make due with a look at the outside, which was impressive.
Back to my first day in Sydney. I wish everyone could travel like I do—I think exposure to different places and people would reduce the hate and fear in our world.
Heidi and I took the ferry, which is part of Sydney’s public transportation system, past Milson’s Point, home to Luna amusement park.
Then on to Circular Quay, the main stop close to the Opera House.
You just can’t resist taking photos of it.
Then we headed for Manly Beach, which afforded a view of sprawling Sydney.
Manly was cold and windy, but beautiful, and offered my first sights of the magnificent trees one sees everywhere in Australia.
We lunched very late at the Skiff Club; this was my introduction to how great the food would be in the coming month.
Then back to the flat, as night fell.
Where I slept for 12 hours …
… then jumped out of bed ready to explore.