It’s 2 in the morning. I’m out of bed, typing this, because I can’t sleep.
I can’t sleep because my son’s cough sounds deep in his little chest. The sound is like an alarm siren and I feel so awake I could have already drained a whole pot of coffee.
I’m sad because I just want him to feel better and be 100% healthy. I’m sad that every little winter sniffle causes an insane amount of stress and anxiety in this hellish pandemic. I’m sad that I can’t take him to the little outdoor Tu Bishvat seder with his Sunday School preschool class.
Especially now, I want so badly to be among my fellow Jewish parents and delight in our sweet kiddos getting sugar highs from too much fruit and grape juice. I want to have muffled, whispered conversations in solidarity with the other moms and dads about how tragic the hostage situation in Texas was, and how, thank God, they all got out safe and are OK. We probably would have left it at that, because what else is there to say? How can you even put words to it?
Actually, let me correct myself: Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and the other hostages are no longer in imminent danger, but they are not safe and of course they are not OK.
None of us are.
But I won’t get to go be in community with my people. Once again, I am isolated here at home. Living in a perpetual state of fear. A fear that, like the moon, waxes and wanes, but is always there.
And so I scroll. I see a tweet by Beth Rader shared by a few friends that reads:
“every time i walked into a synagogue, i eye the exits. every. single. time. i know which pews i can hide behind. i know where my family and friends are at all times. i know where to sit to get me out the doors the fastest. your jewish friends are not okay. none of this is okay.”
I read through the comments, of people relating, sending hearts to each one. It’s surprisingly healing to read through those comments. To feel solidarity in my triggers and trauma response. To know I am not alone. I feel Beth’s words, along with the comments shared on the post, really encapsulate the collective Jewish psyche.
None of this is OK. It was not OK when, as a young child, I had nightmares of sitting in the sauna at the JCC after a swim with my aunt, and a scary man in a khaki uniform with a mustache would lock us in and crank the heat. It was not OK when, in fourth grade, the hairs on the back of my neck prickled when we read “Number the Stars” and Annemarie ripped off Ellen’s Star of David necklace when the Nazis came pounding on the door. It’s not OK to read about school boards discussing whether they should remain impartial on Nazism.
Really? This is still the world we live in? Honestly, I’m not sure why I’m surprised.
For a long time, I just stopped sharing what it is like to be Jewish in an antisemitic world. It gets tiring, being the token Jewish friend. And frankly, nobody wants to hear it. But even when I can’t be in physical community with my fellow Jews, I’m comforted that we can at least convene online — to share our similar stories, our similar fears.
Because none of us are OK, but we can be not OK together. The Jewish community will always persevere. And that is something I want my son to grow up knowing.