I am not Jewish. I was raised Catholic, but I married a Jewish man. Although he wasn’t raised religiously, his family was culturally Jewish in the way that I’m Irish. They celebrated most of the Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Passover but didn’t belong to a temple.
We decided to raise our son without religious instruction, Yet, we celebrated the holidays of our Judaeo-Christian roots. Right around the time our son turned 13, when many of his friends were celebrating their bar and bat mitzvahs, my son asked me what religion he was, and I would say he was half and half–part Jewish, part Christian. That seemed to satisfy his curiosity. Given that neither one of us was into organized religion, as parents, we felt that if our son wanted to pursue a religious path, he should be the one to choose it. Time has passed, and now our son is 30. He has chosen a similar path and is not attached to any religion.
Although I’m not Jewish, throughout the years, I have been surrounded and supported by many loved ones who happen to be Jewish. I am, heartbreakingly, a witness to their pain, grief, and outrage. This latest horrific terrorist attack on Israel has wreaked havoc on their faith, on their communities, and on their culture. It has unearthed in them the trauma of the past.
This never-ending struggle to exist has been around since biblical times when the Hebrews were enslaved by the ancient Egyptians. The Jewish plight has been around for over 5,700 years. In modern history, under Hitler’s command, six million Jews were rounded up, torn from their homes, separated from their families, put in work and death camps, starved, and slaughtered en masse, and, yet, this cruelty persists to this day.
Let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that the antisemitic vitriol being spewed in our country is not without consequence. Let us look in the mirror and decide who we are–not only as Americans but as humans.
And…if you’re paying attention, we have seen the increase of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. by 36 percent in 2022 alone. There were those who invaded the Capitol on J6 proudly wore t-shirts reading, ‘6MWE,’ which stands for, ‘Six Million Jews Wasn’t Enough.’ And…let’s not forget the emboldened tiki-torch bearing white nationalists in Charlottesville chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” Let’s not pretend that Jewish hate is only limited to the Middle East. Let’s not shrug off this latest act of savagery as being just another Middle Eastern crisis. Let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that the antisemitic vitriol being spewed in our country is not without consequence. Let us look in the mirror and decide who we are–not only as Americans but as humans. There is no such thing as a humane war. We see Putin annihilating Ukrainian civilians. We see Hamas’ brutality on Israeli civilians, and we see Israel’s retaliation in Gaza. The old adage, ‘All’s fair in love and war’ could not be more true.
Freedom of Religion resides under the First Amendment. As an American, I will support and defend anyone’s right to believe in whatever god or religion of their choosing. But wartime is where it always gets tricky because killing other human beings goes against the grain of peaceful religious teachings. While we witness the bloodbath taking place in the Middle East, most of my Jewish loved ones are outraged at the silence coming from their non-Jewish friends. I’ve listened to some who have dismissed these latest atrocities by saying it’s been happening for thousands of years, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
I’ve seen insensitive posts about how this conflict is going to affect us here in the U.S. I clicked on the post because I thought it would be a supportive post about the horrific loss of human life, but the post turned out to be how our gas prices, inflation, and interest rates might rise on account of this war. This broke my heart. It disgusted me how people could watch the slaughter of babies and be more concerned about the Almighty Dollar.
I know I’m not alone in having empathy for the massive casualties of innocents on both sides. I feel powerless. All I can do is give my love and support to my loved ones and, above all, to NOT remain silent. The Book of Ecclesiastes says, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven… A time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace….”
For the love of humanity, the peace and love part cannot come soon enough.