Jewish mom shares her concerns about sending her daughter to synagogue

  • There is a new wave of anti-Semitism in the US, sparked by Ye’s comments.
  • As a Jewish mom, I worry about my children, especially when they go to synagogue.
  • I recently had to have a serious talk with my daughter before she went to a bat mitzvah.

Being a Jewish parent in an era of open and violent anti-Semitism in the United States is difficult and scary — especially after Ye recently tweeted that he would make “killer 3” on Jews, former President Donald Trump made anti-Semitic comments, and the FBI in New Jersey has issued a warning about the threat of violence in synagogues.

With all of this in the background, I faced the prospect of sending my daughter to a friend’s bat mitzvah. For months he had been looking forward to the party later that night at a restaurant, after a Saturday morning service at a synagogue.

Sending her to the synagogue scared me — but I didn’t want to scare her

I was afraid for my daughter, even though I knew the synagogue would have armed guards — many do, as the threat of violence where Jews congregate is ever more present and growing more serious by the day. But I also felt that a handful of armed guards could do nothing to stop a determined anti-Semite with a semi-automatic weapon.

I asked her if she planned to wear her Star of David necklace, which would clearly mark her as Jewish, to the service. He said it wasn’t, and I was relieved. With her fair skin and blue eyes, she could easily pass for a non-Jewish friend of her bat-mitzvah girl.

I told her that if violence broke out, she would have to use a tactic that Jews have used throughout history to survive and pretend to be a Christian. While I want my daughter to be proud of her religious traditions and embrace her identity as a Jew, the reality is that in some cases this can be dangerous or even life-threatening.

Before she left, I had “the talk” with her again. There are some who don’t like you because you were born Jewish. There are some who wish you dead for that reason alone. Sometimes these people try to kill people like us. Sometimes they succeed.

He has dealt with anti-Semitism in the past

She stood in front of me in her flowery dress and curly hair and stared at me. My daughter has heard this before and understands that the stakes are high.

He knows he has relatives who were murdered during the Holocaust. He has already fallen victim to anti-Semitism. One child in the elementary school class declared he was a Nazi and another drew swastikas where he could see them clearly. She experienced the cruelty of adults who intended to make her feel safe and protected. Her school inexplicably decided to deal with these incidents on one of the holiest days of the Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah, when she and most other Jewish children were away, leaving her feeling targeted and uncomfortable at school for the rest of the year her there. Whether this was a result of incompetence or indifference, it taught my daughter that anti-Semitism is often not taken seriously and that she cannot count on being free of it anywhere, including at school or a synagogue, as it spreads and intensifies.

I wondered if the parents of non-Jewish children going to synagogue that morning thought to worry about the threat of violence at the ceremony. I wasn’t sure if I was happy that they could send their children to their bat mitzvah blissfully unaware of the growing hatred of Jews, or if my family’s experience again felt erased.

I had a lump in my throat as my daughter went in for the 2 1/2 hour service. She couldn’t use her phone during the religious ceremony and I wouldn’t want to worry her with my anxiety even if she could stay in touch with me. However, I kept my phone close just in case.

My daughter came home safe and sound. I gave her a huge hug and sighed in relief, accepting this as our new, very unsettling normal.

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