Maybe it is time to reread Nathan Englander’s, book of short stories: “What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.” Not that the book is a formula for what you do when Jewish Community Centers and Day Schools receive bomb threats. But given the events of recent weeks, I am beginning to think about the Anne Frank conversation.
In Englander’s story, the Anne Frank conversation is a four-person exchange. It comes after a lot of drama and a little bit of pot. What would you do if they came again? Who would you trust to hide you? Is there a righteous gentile in your neighborhood? (Sorry Mr. Rogers). It is mind boggling to me that the news brings this story back to life. And when I say ‘news’ I mean real hard facts, not fake news or alternative facts.
This is how the internal conversation begins for me: Is this all an isolated phenomenon, although the answer is in the first paragraph of the Wall Street Journal article. “This is the fifth wave of such incidents this year.” I need someone to speak up; I need someone to tell me that my government cares about this; I need to know I can trust that law enforcement is putting appropriate resources into this. I need to feel protected or it is time to take action in a different kind of way and turn the ADL into the JDL.
There I said it. To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn turn. Is it our turn here in America? Is Anti-Semitism a new fact of life and this is the beginning of a different reality or this is the same reality that was always underground and now has been given permission to surface? And what is it with Jewish cemeteries. The Jews in there are dead already. Is that the ultimate in hatred – they can’t be left to rest in peace?
Some of us saw this coming when they started attacking and burning Mosques. Some of us heard the thunder when in the last Presidential campaign words were used as swords. Some didn’t want to believe it could happen here. When Harry Golden said: Only in America, we heard: Never in America. I want my congressman to go to my local JCC and affirm there is no place for bigotry against any minority of religion, color, language, or culture in this America. I want my President to demand an investigation. I want the Jews in his inner circle to tell him: These are my people; this is my pain; find the hidden Haman wherever he may be.
I always thought the Book of Esther was fiction like Englander’s Anne Frank story. I’m afraid not.