Un-multi-tasking

Never Again.

I was steeped in the Holocaust- I read Anne Frank when I was ten, read all the Leon Uris books about the Holocaust, learned about my family that did not make it to this country. We learned from an early age to sing the partisan songs from the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and taught not to stare at my great-aunts concentration camp tattoo. I still cringe when ever I see a swastika or hear the sound of the old German SS sirens. It took me until last year to visit Germany- which was wonderful. I dutifully attended Holocaust memorial celebrations every year and thought "Never Again."

Until now.  Over the years, I felt that the alarm that the older members of my family felt could never happen here- they were being hysterical.... or so I thought. I got complacent and pooh-poohed my mother's concerns every time she perceived an anti-semitic comment or action. She was just being dramatic.

So it hit me like a ton of bricks when the cemetery in Philadelphia where my father's family is buried had tombstones overturned. And it gave me a sick feeling when my friends have had to evacuate their children from the Jewish schools in DC and Virginia and the community centers across the country due to bomb threats. And today a bullet was shot through the classroom of a Jewish synagogue. It freaks me out that it has taken weeks for anyone- besides the Jewish press to actually cover this story.

What did I miss? Where were the signs that I was told to look for? Where was the vigilance I was taught to look for at such a young age?  I am angry, and I will not allow fear to take over.

There have been marvelously kind moments in all of this- as our Moslem friends and neighbors have raised money to fix the cemetery and have walked side by side as we survey the damage. This is a bond that has emerged from hate- and for that I am supremely grateful. But there has not been the outcry that I expected to hear- outcry not out of political expediency but because we know this is just not acceptable. And I know that similar acts of hatred are being felt by immigrants, African Americans, the LGBT community, our Arab neighbors. And to these communities I say, "I am with you."

I am a proud Jew. I love my culture and my religion. I will not be cowed. If I learned anything in my years in Jewish Day school and summer camp, it was that you have to stand up to bullies. And I am prepared to do that. So to the haters out there- I say this time we are not going to be silent. No matter who the target is.
Several years ago I was in a select group of designers that was chosen by the American Institute of Graphic Artists to  create a piece of art symbolizing a year. My assigned year was 1940 and of course I quilted it.