My synagogue is in nearby town, called Pleasantville, New York. Pleasantville is famous for its name, conoting the idylic suburban existance promised to all as part of the American dream.
Recently, Pleasantville hasn’t been too pleasant for a Jewish family which had to endure harassement by a pair of 16 year olds who singled them out because of their religion. In America, we call that a “hate crime” and it is a felony.
The community is working to heal through the schools, the police and local clergy.
It raises a question though. One is tempted to have these teenagers spend time with Holocaust survivors, with survivors of the war in the former Yugoslavia, or of the violence of the American South in the middle of the last century. Spending like learning about Rwanda’s Hutus and Tutsis would be a good idea.
It is important that these kids understand that what they did is in the same category as lynchings, ghettos, and the like. But how do you do that without completely closing them down … “How is making a few calls anything like a lynching?”
In these days, it’s easy for us to forget that this kind of thing still exists, all over the world — and it’s especially easy for us liberals, as we are so ready to accept others.
It’s really hard to imagine, but as the economy continues to founder, anti-Semitism is actually on the rise. Yes, 70 years after the Shoah, there’s still reason for us to be wary.