Keren David

We worry what could happen but we will not let the murderers win

Mumbai, Copenhagen, Brussels, Paris, Marseille, Buenos Aires and now Pittsburgh. Keren David reflects on the fear she and others feel

October 29, 2018 11:38

"If you’re Jewish and you’ve been scared by the Pittsburgh shooting…"

I saw this a lot over the weekend. Well-meaning politicians, trying to reassure us. And I’m grateful, I suppose that they took the time to offer support, empathise and - that ghastly phrase - “reach out.”

However, I was not scared by the atrocity in Pittsburgh. Nor, I imagine were many other Jews. We weren’t any more scared than we were already. Because it’s what we fear every single time we go to synagogue.

Every time we go to a Jewish building. Every time we buy our challah from a Jewish bakery, or shop at a kosher supermarket. Every time we put our kids on a bus to go to their Jewish schools. Every time we send them to Jewish youth groups or attend Jewish concerts, or go on Jewish demos, or – for those of us who work in the Jewish community - go to our places of work.

We live with an undercurrent of fear. We know we can be targets. We also know that when our enemies quibble and point fingers at each other (‘Why accuse the left of antisemitism, when the real threat comes from the far right?’), when they mock, or seek to deflect or accuse us of hysteria or smears, they are not taking our fear seriously.

People forget, we do not. Mumbai, Copenhagen, Brussels, Paris, Marseille, Buenos Aires…the list goes on and on. Recently, I mentioned the Copenhagen attack to some non-Jewish friends. “Copenhagen?” one asked. “Maybe I missed that one. Remind me…oh yes, I think I remember.” We don’t forget Copenhagen, because when we read about girls huddling in a basement for safety, we see our children, we remember our simchas. We won’t forget Pittsburgh - ever - because we can translate the horror, the blood, all too easily to our own lives.

Did I care much about the name, the details of the killer? No. Did I ache to know the names, see the faces of the dead? Yes, because I knew they would feel like family.

 Would I feel safer praying under the eye of an armed guard? No. Would it be safer to disengage, to stop doing Jewish things, fade into the general population? I doubt it. On a recent visit to Spain we were reminded of the Inquisition’s mission… to seek out Jews and kill them, 20 generations after their ancestors converted to Christianity.

If there’s comfort it’s in our defiance of fear. We feel scared, but we keep on going anyway. Resilience seems to be in our DNA. We’re thankful for the CST, those brave people who guard us.

We may be critical of Israel’s government sometimes, but we understand its need to protect itself, and our own need for a homeland.

We’re buoyed by our allies, but they can’t promise us safety. We know better than that.

But we are strong, and we are brave. Yes, we are scared. All the time. But we’re never going to let the murderers win.

October 29, 2018 11:38

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