Perspective: The Persistence Of Prejudice

Oct 17, 2019

The sight of a policeman greeted worshippers as they arrived at DeKalb’s synagogue in late September to celebrate the Jewish New Year. The reason for the guard? One year ago, 11 worshippers were killed by a hate-filled anti-Semite at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

As I walked into the sanctuary to find a seat, I had a vivid image of a gunman bursting into the room spewing hatred and gunfire. Suddenly the sanctuary didn’t feel like such a safe place anymore.

For a long time, many American Jews thought anti-Semitism was past. But like any prejudice that involves scapegoating, it was just lurking, ready to flare up when people needed someone to blame during tough times.

Those who were paying attention didn’t deceive themselves, as they have watched the dramatic rise in the number of groups and incidents in recent years. The Anti-Defamation League has logged a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents just since 2017.

I can’t forget Charlottesville that year, with the chant, “Jews will not replace us.” It’s a twisted ideology that blames the Jews for the false fear that the white race is doomed. As intended, the march and subsequent horrific events that weekend reminded many of 1930s Germany.

So a chilling cycle continues, and one more group of people no longer take their safety for granted.

I’m Deborah Booth and that’s my perspective.