Being a Jew in Trump’s America

Fangry is the word that comes to mind. Fearful and angry. Along with a truckload of outrage that our “Judeo-Christian” based country has allowed itself to descend into religious and racial hatred of unfathomable proportion. Despite how close high-powered, theoretically committed Jews — read that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner — are to the throne.

Since the election, in New York alone, anti-semitic crimes have jumped 35%. Many have had a signature swaztika with “Go Trump” on it. Add to that the countless others in the rest of the country, such as the assault on the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in St. Louis where more than 100 headstones were toppled. Many of those interred were holocaust survivors and resulted in broken headstones and re-broken hearts. Then there were the 100 toppled Jewish headstones in Philadelphia. And the Jewish Community Centers in 29 states that have suffered bomb threats with scared, confused Jewish school kids rushed to evacuate. But feeling terrified as a Jew under Trump goes far beyond hate crimes and vandalism. I fear for the country as whole. As should you.

One of the basic tenets of Judaism, and for that matter Christianity, is caring for the less fortunate. It’s the concept of justice, tzedek (צֶדֶק in Hebrew). Basically the bible says that since we’re all created in God’s image, we all owe it to each other to care for one another, lookout for one another. It’s everybody’s duty to help the less fortunate. So by all means let’s cut health care and social services.

There aren’t enough Tums in the world to keep my stomach acid down at how ordinary people’s live are being shattered every day because our sense of justice has been twisted by trickle-down presidential prejudice. And buoyed by trickle-up lynch-mob mentality.

Fangry. Not so much for me, but for my daughter, her husband, my grandson, my stepson, my nephews. For the world they’re inheriting. Hey Ivanka, Jared, you listening? Maybe have a word with your dad.

For all the invoking of policies in the name religion, and for all of those who are decrying the lack of God in government and schools, I sure am feeling those nails being hammered into my body.

Chinukh (חינוך in Hebrew) is another tenet of Judaism and most other religions. Roughly translated it means we value education. For everyone. That brings me to Congressional bill HR 899. Here’s the whole ball of wax, the whole enchilada, the whole kit and caboodle: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” Wow. Along with that, in an interiew with Mother Jones, Betsy DeVos stated she wants to use the schools to build “God’s Kingdom.” And she said, “I expect there will be more schools of any kind that haven’t even been invented yet.”

Back in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s in Germany someone else had a similar idea about inventing a new school system. The Adolph Hitler Schools. Their purpose was to completely revolutionize the education system. That worked out well. Especially for the Jews.

Bal tashchit (בל תשחית in Hebrew) roughly translated means “do not destroy.” This is another basic belief of Judaism. We are the caretakers of what God created — the Earth. So can anybody explain to me the meshugas (that’s Yiddish for batshit fucking craziness) behind making Scott Pruitt head of the EPA? Pruitt seems to think it’s a boon to our country to have untold gallons of chicken shit dumped into the water we end up drinking. He thinks that it’s a state problem when Oklahoma chicken waste runs into other states, poisoning their water. Your water. Maybe Pruitt should put on a pair waders and step into the sludge with a big stop sign. That’ll put an end to it. Cheap, too.

Then there’s this little parable about the Talmudic sage Choni. One day Choni day was getting his walk on and he spotted some guy planting a carob tree. Choni asked, “Dude — how long does it take for this tree to bear fruit?” The guy scratched his head. “ ‘bout seventy years.” Choni then scratched his own head. “Dude — how do you know you’ll be around for another seventy years?” The guy looked Choni up and down, “I don’t. But I did find lots carob trees all over the hood bearing fruit. Whoever came before me planted those trees. So I’m planting these for my kids. And yours. And even Scott Pruitt’s.” Ivanka, Jared — you listening? Probably not. They’re Jews of convenience. Jews when it comes to “Israel first” but not when it comes to practicing what is so basic to our religion right here at home.

If you’re a Jew, if you’re Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, whatever, where is the outrage at what’s happening. Where is your sense of being fangry? Why are we allowing the basic rules of humanity to be so callously broken? It has to stop. And stopping it starts with all of us making some phone calls, making some noise, making each day a little better by helping someone else. Because one day it could be you that needs the help. And you’ll want someone to be there for you.

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