Oy Vey! Baruch Hashem! // Times like these beget both responses

It is easy to get depressed these days. Celebrities with millions of fans (mindless many of whom may assume that the ability to rap rhymes or accurately aim a basketball evidences wisdom) spew the most offensive anti-Semitic drivel. Including one such “star”’s recent declaration, “I like Hitler.”

Attacks on Jews proceed apace, not only in Brooklyn, where shtreimels and black hats have become beguiling bulls’ eyes to assorted sociopaths, but even in my neighborhood, in the forgotten (though increasingly being discovered by erstwhile Jewish Brooklynites) borough of Staten Island, where a man shot a pellet gun at a father and young son outside a kosher supermarket.

A thousand miles to the south, in St. Petersburg, Florida, a follower of Louis Farrakhan has been elected to a city council seat.

Even states lacking sizable Jewish presences are being muddied by Jew-hatred. A recent Virginia state report revealed a 71% increase in anti-Semitic harassment from two years ago.

A blatant and unrepentant anti-Semite supped with a former president, who deigned to not condemn his repulsive supporter.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents across the country in 2021 reached an all-time high of 2,717—an average of more than seven incidents per day, and nearly triple the level in 2015. The ugliness emerges from disparate directions, expressed by black racists, white supremacists and radical Islamists alike—anti-Semitism is the only thing they share in common.

Holocaust denial is on the upswing. Playgrounds and cemeteries have been desecrated with swastikas and ugly slogans. Wide-reaching platforms like Twitter and YouTube are lousy with Jew-hatred.

And, of course, things like the 2017 “Unite the Right” Charlottesville rally (with its “Jews will not replace us” barkings) and the 2018 attack on a Pittsburgh Jewish congregation and the Monsey attack on religious Jews three Chanukahs ago are hardly ancient memories.


It would be shortsighted, in fact wrong, to ignore the robust response of government and the general populace (not to mention major companies, which reflect the populace’s feelings) to the putrid wave of anti-Semitism that has crashed on our shores.

The slow-witted celebrities have been roundly and strongly denounced by media and elected officials, and business ventures that once featured them have abandoned them entirely.

Crimes against Jews (with the unfortunate exception of The New York Times’ slanders) have been condemned across the political spectrum, and their perpetrators identified, often by citizens, and arrested. The Staten Island pellet-shooter was quickly apprehended and charged with a hate crime.

As to the celebrity secretions, President Biden tweeted that “I just want to make a few things clear: The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure… Silence is complicity.”

A bipartisan slate of 125 lawmakers from both chambers of Congress have called on the administration to adopt a “whole of government” policy to combating anti-Semitism. They are pushing for the creation of “an interagency task force led by an official at the Assistant Secretary rank or higher.”

Last week, the Vice President’s husband, Doug Emhoff, hosted an anti-anti-Semitism roundtable with high-ranking administration officials and Jewish leaders.

And in Virginia, the state’s governor, Glenn Youngkin, in one of his first executive orders, announced plans to create the Commission to Combat Anti-Semitism.

None of which is to remotely downplay the sheer rankness or actual threat of anti-Semitism in the US today. Jew-hatred is, tragically, as real and absurd as ever, and we must do all we can to confront and further marginalize it. It remains a clear and present danger.

But we have an obligation—as Jews—to be grateful for the response of government officials, American citizens, business leaders and media to that hatred, to thank Hashem for the fact that, for all the challenges and dangers we continue to face, we are not living in a 21st-century equivalent of pre-war Berlin. Or even in modern-day France.

To remind ourselves that, as galuyos go, we are fortunate to live in a malchus, despite some of its subjects’ hideousness, shel chesed.

To recognize that our “Oy Vey” must be paired with a “Baruch Hashem.”


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