As a Jewish Mom, I Never Worried Much About Antisemitism — Until Now

I’m going to be perfectly honest: until 2016 or so, I never really thought about antisemitism — at least not how it might affect me personally. Because, luckily, it didn’t.

I was born in the late 1970s. Both of my parents are Jewish. My father is Israeli. Although we were not observant Jews, being Jewish was definitely always part of my identity. We celebrated Jewish holidays with my grandparents, and Yiddish phrases were often used in my household. My dad’s parents had escaped the Holocaust in eastern Europe, and that story was always part of my identity.

Growing up, I knew antisemitism still existed, but I didn’t think of it as something very common. Part of the reason was because I rarely experienced it myself. I can really only think of one time that I experienced antisemitism. I was about 6, hanging out at my downstairs neighbor’s apartment. She asked me if I was a “kike.” I wasn’t sure what she meant, so I asked my mom, who explained that it was a very mean word people used to describe Jews.

We soon moved away from that apartment complex, and I just filed that experience away as some weird thing that had happened to me. I spent my teen years living in a community near my grandparents, with a strong Jewish presence. Maybe that inoculated me somewhat from antisemitism? I’m not sure exactly.

Fast forward to 2016, soon after former president Trump was elected. I knew that a whole bunch of hate speech had been recently unleashed against people of color and other minorities. But I still never thought it would hit so close to home.

I was married (to a fellow Jew), with kids, and my older son came home to tell me a horrifying story. A kid at school, who knew he was Jewish, had told him that the Holocaust was justified and that Jews were Satan worshippers. Really, he said that to my son’s face.

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