When I started writing my novel about a girl who creates a golem to protect her from antisemitism, I based it in part on my own experiences as a kid living in a very not-Jewish area. The penny-throwing. The name-calling. Needing to miss school to celebrate the High Holy Days. Getting mocked for bringing matzoh to school during Passover. That kind of thing. Since the story has a (mostly) contemporary setting, I folded in some things that echoed current news events.
Then eleven people were shot to death in a Pittsburgh synagogue, and it wrecked me. Four years ago today. And my frustration and anger have only grown since then as antisemitic incidents and language have increased across the US. I would much rather have watched my novel become less relevant, not more relevant. Querying it is … a lot, sometimes.
But I also see people speaking out against this particular form of hatred, and recognizing how intertwined it is with other forms of hatred. And that’s so important, and so much appreciated.
So what can you do to help? Recognizing and calling out antisemitic tropes is big. The ADL explains the historical roots of these tropes and how they can appear in a modern context. A Europe-based site called Get the Trolls Out! tackles religious hate speech in general, and it has a fairly comprehensive section on antisemitism.
CNN did a special about antisemitism over the summer, which you should still be able to find on-demand.
If you read YA, check out Liza Wiemer’s The Assignment. It’s based on a real-life incident involving a Holocaust-related assignment at a high school that required students to debate “both sides” of murdering Jews.
Ken Burns’ latest series focuses on the US response to the Holocaust. And HBO just released a film chronicling the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting and how it affected the community.
Knowledge helps defeat hate. Thanks for listening.