On Sunday the Goldwasser clan with Kheel grandparents in tow are going on a vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia. I am sure we will have a great time and hopefully the kids will learn something too! While this would be a nice topic for my blog today, sadly it is not. Hopefully I will blog about the trip before, during, and after, but for now I am going to talk about a much more serious issue.
Let me start with a little background. I am very lucky to have travelled to (or through) almost all of the contiguous 48 states. I went cross-country twice, once with my family in 1984 and once as a USY on Wheels staff member in 1989. I have also travelled other places in the country since then and even had a few days in Paris! During all of those trips there is one thing that I can say very proudly, that I wore my Kippah every day while on vacation. Those who know me, know that I wear my Kippah all the time. I started wearing the Kippah when I came back from USY Israel Pilgrimage and I have never stopped. As I said, I have been in almost every state of the US and Paris France (I need to go to more places in Europe!) and never once did I have an issue with wearing the Kippah, and never once did I even think that perhaps I should not wear it. For sure, there were times when I had a baseball cap on as well as my Kippah, but those cases were because of the hot sun, not because I wanted to take off the Kippah. And in those cases there were plenty of times I had the cap off.
Now I am facing a dilemma that I never thought I would ever face. Should I wear my Kippah during this trip south? Before going further, I will say right from the start that I have not made any decision on this. Why am I having this internal crisis? Many of my friends probably are seeing the same things on Facebook that I have been seeing. Throughout Europe there have been major anti-Semitic acts almost on a daily basis. People are defacing Synagogue and Jewish businesses with swastikas, people are harassing Jews, and people are even pulling Israel food from the shelves in stores, and even pulling kosher foods that are not Israeli produces. What I am seeing on Facebook scares me to no end. I feel like I am seeing the 1930 all over again!
One can quickly say, “But that is in Europe. In the US that could never happen.” And until recently I might have been inclined to agree with that. Over the past month or so there has been a major upswing in anti-Semitic activity in the US. In Seattle there was a major protest where participants called for the destruction of the Jewish state and people nearby heard things like “the Jews killed Jesus” and “kill all the Jews.” In Oakland, CA this week dock workers refused to unload an Israeli cargo ship and there are groups planning on doing the same in Seattle and Vancouver. For those who say that this is anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic, they need to have a quick lesson in world history. In truth, there anti-Israel IS anti-Semitism, plain and simple. Just look at these protests. If it were only anti-Israel, why would you hear “the Jews killed Jesus”? In Europe it is even clearer that the protests are anti-Semitic and not anti-Israel. Over 2000 French Jews have moved to Israel in the past number of months, compared with a few hundred the same time last year. That says a lot.
There is some encouragement. Unlike the 1930s, we are not seeing state sponsored anti-Semitism. We are seeing heads of state making public statements against anti-Semitism. This is a good thing. We are seeing the American press talking in terms of anti-Semitism. This is also a good thing because the American press (some of it, not all) seems to be coming to the realization that anti-Israel is actually anti-Semitism.
So I am still unsure about wearing my Kippah. One the one hand, I always wear it and I should continue to do so. On the other hand, I don’t want to put my family in a situation where people will start harassing us over what is going on in Israel. My post title gives me another option to wear a baseball cap the entire time, but what message am I saying by doing that? What my final decision will be remains to be seen, and perhaps I will blog about it before we leave, but for now, I want to hear what my friends have to offer about this.