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Jun 20 2014

Growing Up Jewish When Your Best Friend Is Muslim

By at 2:49 pm

muslim-mother

The other day I had the rare opportunity to watch the news while the children were away at their father’s house. Apparently the Pope had invited leaders of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples together to pray for peace in the Middle East. I held my breath and felt an initial joy at the idyllic image of three faiths uniting to pray for the end of this conflict. But the emotion was quickly interrupted by my cynical thoughts… All the prayer in the world will not solve this situation. My heart could imagine a day my mind could never foresee.

As one of few Jewish families in town, I experienced my share of anti-Semitism. I realize there is little unique about my experience as a minority. I was already a quiet, unassuming child, but I did my best to blend. I was also conscious that I represented Jews for better or worse and I tried my best to dispel stereotypes. Naturally I gravitated towards others who were different from the norm. Looking back at photographs of my senior year of high school I see a group of young women of several different ethnicities. My closest friend was a Muslim of Indian descent.

In all the years we have known each other, my friend and I never once discussed the strife that exists between members of our faiths. I recall only one conversation where we compared similarities in our beliefs, mainly the importance of helping the poor. Our religions did not divide us. On the contrary, I think our otherness helped bring us closer. I am grateful for her friendship for many reasons, but I realize that I placed the same heavy burden on her shoulders I accuse others of placing on me. She is the face of Islam to me. When I hear a derogatory comment about Muslims, she comes to mind first. Our friendship forces me to consider alternative perspectives and to challenge anti-Muslim attitudes. I am indebted to her because I may have been ambivalent or worse. My heart could possibly have been hardened towards people of her faith had we not shared a childhood. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 3 2014

Don’t Mind the Swastikas at Preschool

By at 1:45 pm

swastika-preschool

What if I told you that my daughter’s preschool was covered in graffiti yesterday and I dropped her off anyway? Would you think I was a bad mom?

How about if I told you that what was scrawled on the school wasn’t obscenities or amateur art, but angry dark swastikas… and I still dropped her off? Are you judging me now?

How about if I said that we are the only Jewish family that goes to that preschool and I STILL dropped her off? Are you shocked yet? Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 18 2014

Don’t Believe What You Read About Those Anti-Semitic Fliers In Ukraine

By at 12:18 pm

antisemitic-fliers

Because I work in the media, I never believe a word anyone says or writes. (I know full well there is no such thing as an unbiased journalist, or an editor without an agenda.) Because I was born in Ukraine (then a part of the Soviet Union), I most especially never believe a word anyone says or writes coming out of that particular region of the world.

That’s why, when friends began emailing me the USA Today article, soon backed up (or maybe merely copy and pasted) by other outlets, that claimed Jews in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk “emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” I refused to leap immediately into panic mode.

Within hours, another source, in The New Republicclaimed that while the leaflets may have been real, they were not issued by the local government, but by their opponents in order to deliberately smear the pro-Russian side of the Crimea conflict. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 14 2014

As We Celebrate Passover, The Tragedy in Kansas City is a Painful Reminder of Our History

By at 11:17 am

JCC-kansas

Tonight, the Jewish people will collectively celebrate our freedom from bondage. As yesterday’s murders at two Jewish targets in Overland Park, Kansas by a white supremacist made quite clear, there are still those who hate us, who murder us, who want to see a world without Jews. We mourn the murdered, and bemoan a world where such horrors can happen in unexpected moments and places.

But tonight, we will open the doors to our homes to welcome in a taste of the “World to Come.” We will recline, we will rejoice. All who are hungry, let them come and eat in our Seder feast. Let them hear the story of how far we have come, over thousands of years.

We live. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 1 2013

Hobby Lobby Doesn’t Cater to Jews

By at 1:29 pm

hobby lobby

Beginning your shopping list for Hanukkah gifts and decorations? If so, make sure to avoid Hobby Lobby, a swiftly growing U.S. crafts store with 561 stores, which sells zero Hanukkah merchandise, and hires Jewish intolerant employees.

On September 27th, Ken Berwitz took to his blog to explain what happened when a friend of his entered Hobby Lobby seeking Hanukkah goods. To the customer’s surprise, a sales associate callously replied, “We don’t cater to you people.”

Understandably, Mr. Berwitz had to hear this supposed truth for himself, and quickly made a call to Corporate to ask why Hobby Lobby didn’t put Hanukkah goods on their item list this year.

The response: “Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.” Read the rest of this entry →

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