When Being Jewish Means Being Afraid

(New York Times) Jordan Salama - Growing up, my brothers and I often teased my mom for having what we thought was an irrational fear of being identified as a Jew. She painted over the Star of David on a duffle bag because when we were traveling, she didn't want people "to know." She taught us not to say Jewish things too loudly in public. My mother grew up in Baghdad, watching as Jewish life there came crashing down around her. My grandmother and my aunt shared tales of my great-grandfather, who built Iraq's first cinema and movie studio. Jews in Iraq were jurists and government officials; one was even the minister of finance. Then in June 1941 the "Farhud" pogrom killed nearly 200 Jews and injured hundreds more. By the 1950s more than 3/4 of Iraq's Jews had fled the country. My mother remembers when they imprisoned her father along with other Jews. The story my mother remembers is that no matter how comfortable we as Jews may feel today, it only takes a small group of people (and a large group of people to sit idly by) to turn everything on its head. The wave of anti-Semitic attacks over the past year are instilling the seeds of fear into many millennial American Jews for perhaps the first time.

2020-01-17 00:00:00

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