Jennifer Weiner, Jewish mom and writer extraordinaire, wrote a stunning op-ed in the New York Times recently that everyone needs to read. Weiner carefully explained not only why the JCC bomb threats are a clear indication that anti-Semitism still exists (and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon), but what it actually means for Jewish Americans.
Her piece starts off with a moment of her scrolling through her Facebook feed, to see her mom at a pool somewhere else because she had “to take refuge outside from pool during call-in threat that caused J.C.C. evacuation,” as the “pool and nursery school evacuated.” If that doesn’t send chills down your spine, I don’t know what will. Perhaps it seems like something being blown out of proportion, but it’s really not. It’s a big deal to be thrust out of a safe public space because it has been threatened. Because other people chose not to make it safe anymore.
Weiner went on to say how “the J.C.C. is where many of the nation’s estimated 5.3 million Jews feel the most Jewish American,” adding:
“On the day my mom was forced to get out of the pool, Jan. 18, 26 J.C.C.s in 17 states were the targets of bomb threats. Even if my mom hadn’t posted her wet-faced selfie, it would have felt personal.
It’s where parents drop kids off at preschool, or pick them up from summer camp. It’s where moms take yoga or Pilates, or dads relive their glory days on the basketball courts, or retirees attend lectures or cooking classes or have high-school students tell them how to work iPads.
The J is, in short, a place to go about the business of a regular, unremarkably American life. That’s why it was terrifying to watch week after week of bomb threats — a total of 68 threats at 53 different J.C.C.s in the United States and Canada.”
Weiner then delved into how JCC’s have affected and enriched her own life as a child and adult, stating:
“I’ve probably spent an entire year of my life in the J.C.C. in West Hartford. When I was 3 years old, I went to preschool there. When I was 15, I spent six weeks in Israel on a trip run by the J. When my first book was published, one of the first places to invite me to speak was my Jewish community center.
I’ve now spoken in J.C.C.s from San Diego and San Francisco to St. Louis to Atlanta. My nanna spent the last months of her life in the Meer Apartments, on the campus of the J.C.C. in West Bloomfield. Every time I visit my mom, we drive to West Hartford to work out and swim.”
This is an example of the political being personal, as Weiner emphasized in her comments about President Trump’s lengthy silence on the matter.
“The president’s silence, and his day-late and dollar-short declaration, made their own statement. They said that American Jews did not deserve his reassurance, that the threats against places where we lift weights and send our kids to finger-paint weren’t important enough to require his swift condemnation, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s poor ratings, or that time the cast of “Hamilton” addressed Mike Pence during a curtain call.”