Be Aware, Not Ignorant

The international sign for people standing together against anti-semitism

The international sign for people standing together against anti-semitism

Rachel Henry and Hope Kahn

Two-Hundred-Twenty-Seven miles from Wilde Lake, Sabbath prayers were interrupted by gunshots at the Tree of Life synagogue taking 11 lives on October 27, 2018.

Although some might say that “anti-Semitism doesn’t happen here,” they would be wrong.  

Twenty miles from Wilde Lake, during a showing of “Fiddler on the Roof,” a historically Jewish musical, an audience member shouted, “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!” from the crowd.

Eight miles from Wilde Lake, students were greeted by graffitied Swastikas on the  Glenelg High School campus on May 24, 2018.This incident was just seven months ago.

Here, at Wilde Lake, “jokes” about Jews burning in ovens and being greedy with money are made in classrooms, hallways, and in the cafeteria.

I’d like to address a few ignorant comments I hear often.


  1. “Well, it was just a joke.”

Anti-Semitism. Beliefs or behaviors that are hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It includes the teaching that Jews are inferior, and political efforts that are made to isolate, oppress, or harm them. But what most people choose to ignore is the fact that prejudiced or stereotyped views of Jewish people are forms of anti-Semitism too.

When you tell a Jewish person to pick up the penny that’s on the ground, you committed an act of anti-Semitism. When you tell a Jewish person to get in the oven, you committed an act of anti-Semitism. When your punchline has to do with the length of one our noses, you committed an act of anti-Semitism. Your “jokes” reinforce the fear that is instilled in Jewish people just because we are Jewish.


  1. “Anti-Semitism is just now occurring.”


Anti-Semitism due to the Jewish-Christian conflict has existed since the first century. However, many Americans aren’t aware of its prevalence today, or choose to not see it as an issue. After World War II, anti-Semitism had a new fuel in the Nazi party. Over 6 million Jews were murdered in one of the biggest genocides in the history of the world. One would think that mass murder wouldn’t be a joking matter, but to some people, it is. Anti-Semitism has only gotten worse since Trump was elected as President. In fact, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the first year Trump had taken office. Perhaps we can’t fully blame this severe increase on Trump himself, but when an influential figure with power shares and retweets false messages from hate groups and anti-Semites, stereotypes are normalized and hate continues to spread. This cannot continue.


  1. “There’s nothing I can do.”


People must take action to stand up to acts of anti-Semitism. Responding with silence will result in nothing changing, and nothing changing results in hate, in fear and in danger.