During the Passover Seder, Jewish families sing a poignant, and sadly, all too true song:
וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵיֽנוּ וְלָנֽוּ. שֶׁלֹא אֶחָד בִּלְבָד, עָמַד עָלֵיֽנוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנֽוּ. אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, עוֹמְדִים
עָלֵיֽנוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנֽוּ. וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם
The words reference how God sustains and saves the Jews, despite repeated attempts to destroy them. One line is particularly upsetting: ‘It is not one person alone who has rose up against us to seek our destruction; rather, in each generation, they rise up against us and try to destroy us.’
Until well into my teens, we spent each Passover in Israel with my grandparents. When my grandmother, a holocaust survivor, sung these words, we all used to look at each other with tears in our eyes. We knew that she had faced the biggest threat to Jewish survival in her generation.
As a child, I never believed these words have any relevance to my own life. I fervently hope to be right, but all signs point to my having been tragically, devastatingly, wrong.
As an observant Jew, I don’t use my phone or other electronics on Shabbat. Imagine my surprise and horror turning on my phone this past Saturday night to two very different, very disturbing pieces of news: another shooting at another synagogue, and an anti-Semitic cartoon more befitting Der Stürmer than the so-called paper of record.
The shooter at Chabad in Poway murdered an innocent Jewish woman and injured several more. She died for the crime of being Jewish. For a few days, it’ll seem like everyone cares and everyone is in tune with the unique threats faced by minorities. For a few days, funds will be raised, prayers uttered, and best wishes sent. For a few days. After that, everything will go back to ‘normal.’
Except, it’s not normal. It’s not normal that the New York Times published a piece describing Jesus as a Palestinian man, an idea that is both wildly inaccurate from a historical perspective, and wildly disturbing in the sense that it completely erases Jews and Judaism. It’s not normal that the Times, as an organization, or any individual who is ostensibly qualified to work at the Times published a cartoon that is frighteningly similar to the sorts of materials passed around in Nazi Germany. It’s not normal that people in Congress, people who sit on the House Foreign Relations Committee, can get away with saying anti-Semitic smears, and then turn around and accuse rightful critics of being bigots. It’s not normal that we live in a time in which microaggressions and dog whistles, with regard to any other minority, earn widespread condemnation and censure, while outright anti-Semitism prompts not even so much as a shrug.
Except…it is normal. This has been the fate of the Jews for centuries. In every generation, they rise up against us and try to destroy us. But that’s not where the song ends: ‘God will save us from their hands.’ Shame He has to.
Daniella Greenbaum Davis is a Spectator columnist and a Senior Contributor to the Federalist.