I am a secular Jew, and I live in the southern part of Rockland County.
I am the mother of three children and they all attended one of our local districts — one of them still does. Since they were small, they’ve had pennies thrown at them, been told they will burn in hell because they don’t believe in Jesus, and been told that Hitler missed them and they should have been put in ovens.
Several years ago we had “Jump a Jew Day” at one of our schools. And recently, my high schooler was told over and over again that she must have measles because she is a Jew. Kids were questioning her, asking her why she’s not vaccinated. (She is vaccinated.)
These are just our personal stories.
Many of my Jewish friends have had their children met with similar hate. And the stories that my more observant Jewish friends have told me about things that have been screamed at them and their children from passing cars on the streets of Rockland County are horrific. A friend of mine was driving her young daughter and her friend up Route 59 in Nanuet, when a religious Jewish man drove by next to them. And her daughter’s friend, a little girl, yelled “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!”
Don’t tell me that anti-Semitism isn’t alive and well and thriving in Rockland County. You can say that over and over again, you can make all the cutesy memes you want, but it will not diminish the power of the term, and what it means to ALL Jews. While the term should NOT be abused or thrown around lightly, we will use that “card” because it’s ours to use to describe the real hatred that is being directed at us. All of us.
You will not silence us and we will not stand down because you think you can diminish the meaning of anti-Semitism.
I’m seeing benign posts made by our Reform and Conservative synagogues being questioned and attacked. Why? Because the folks are Jewish and they dare post in our community groups, which are becoming increasingly more hateful by the day. I’m seeing posts by the Jewish Federation of Rockland County being attacked. Its Facebook posts are consistently being bombarded by hateful comments. (Those posts are being monitored and deleted.)
It’s as if the people of Rockland County think there is some grand conspiracy going on here, that all of the synagogues and organizations are in on. Can you not see the absurdity and the danger in this? (The conspiracy theory that Jews are all methodically trying to take over, by the way, is one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes. This is one of the reasons the “Storm is Brewing” video is so disturbing.)
There is not one, but two vile threads on Facebook about kosher meat that devolved into hateful commentary. People are questioning the prices and methods behind kosher meat! Without knowing anything about it! Come on now, people, take a step back and take a look at what’s happening. This is how ridiculous and petty we’ve become.
My children are older now, and they’re even more aware of the hatred toward Jews in Rockland. They’ve been subjected to “The Storm is Brewing” nonsense twice. Those videos don’t differentiate between Jews. We are all Jews. My children are frightened to go to our synagogue for the High Holidays. That is partially due to the epidemic of gun violence in our country, but also because of the hateful sentiments being spewed in Rockland at “US.” Because we are “THEM” and “THEY.”
The hate has to stop. I’m asking you to take a breath and a beat before you lay your hands on your keyboards or put your fast thumbs to your phones and think about my kids, and all of the other Jewish kids in Rockland County.
Evan Karzhevsky is a mother, wife, singer, and community activist. She is the administrator of the Facebook page “Rockland Is One,” serves on the board of her temple, and is a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County.