It Could Have Been Us

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It Could Have Been Us

Eva Drotch

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As a Jewish teenager growing up with knowledge of the Holocaust, I believe it’s unreal that acts of anti-Semitism are still being committed in 2018 in the United States, especially after hearing about the many recent attacks.

On October 27, 2018, there was an anti-Semitic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. The shooter, Robert Bowers, stated “all Jews must die” as he proceeded to kill eleven Jewish people and injure six others.

This shooting was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in United States history. And tragically, based on the data, it won’t be surprising if it becomes more common to experience anti-Semitic hate crimes–unless we put an end to it.  

Westborough is a town with two synagogues and a relatively high Jewish population; we are very similar to the town in Pittsburgh. Clearly, the shooting happened somewhere else, but it could have been us.

FBI data shows, “Hate crimes in the U.S. jumped 17 percent in 2017 with a 37 percent spike in crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions.”  Attacks on Jews make up more than half of all religion-based hate crimes. So yes, Jews are the most targeted group in terms of religion.

In addition, the Anti-Defamation League reports, “The number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than in 2016, marking the largest single-year increase on record and the second-highest number reported since the organization began collecting incident data.”

At Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Connecticut, there have been many acts of anti-Semitism performed by students, even some Jewish ones. The acts have been in the forms of “social media posts, public intimidation in the hallways from students saying ‘kill the Jews,’ and swastikas drawn on bathroom stalls.” Students have even been threatened to be shot.

The sickening part is that at A.R.H.S., it was pushed onto the students to solve the problem and speak up. Many parents and citizens expressed animosity towards school officials for failing to recognize the problem before it got out of hand.

One of my closest friends is a sophomore at the school. She sent a heartbreaking text including, “I am terrified to go to school tomorrow, but we are trying to stand up against it.”

After one of her days at school, she briefly mentioned her experience, “If I’m being honest, today was one of the worst days I’ve ever had. We are all emotionally and mentally exhausted but out movement has gotten massive. Hopefully, things will start to get better.”

Fifteen-year-old high school students shouldn’t have to go to school with the fear of being targeted based on religion.

If this was able to happen at any ordinary high school, what makes it different than the possibility of a severe attack at Westborough High School? Again, it could have been us.

Even as recent as November 29, 2018, a Jewish Columbia professor, Midlarsky, had her office vandalized with swastikas and the anti-Semitic slur “yid.”

The same professor was also a victim of harassment in 2007. One of her main focuses was researching the legacy of the Holocaust, which is probably part of the reason why she was targeted.

She referred to the act as part of the“tremendous upsurge in anti-Semitism” and she could not be more correct.

To reiterate, this happened to an ordinary teacher at an ordinary school and it could have been a teacher at WHS, it could have been one of the students.

But wait–even in Westborough, there have been incidents. On January 15, 2017, and on May 22, 2017, there were acts of anti-Semitic vandalism which resulted in “Swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti found on building” in our so-called safe small town.

The fact the Westborough is considered “safe” is shocking to me. If we are safe, then what is considered harmful?   All over the country, people have experienced anti-Semitism attacks ranging from bomb threats, to swastika graffiti, to shootings, and everything in between.

Religion-based hate crimes and discrimination have taken over our nation. They are actively changing who were are and how we express our identity.

Being Jewish is a huge part of who I am. Religion plays a big role in my life, and many others as well. I am very involved in the Jewish community. The number of Jewish teens is very small and that’s why it’s important to support each other in times like these, whether you are Jewish or not.

Currently, with the use of social media and youth organizations, I cannot express how easy it is to get involved and provide support. A little help can go a long way.

As teenagers all over, it is our job to make a change. We decide our future. We must stand up against these acts and put an end to them. We are stronger than hate.

If you are interested in making a change, go to this link for specific steps you can take.


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