This week has definitely been both draining personally and politically. Under our current President, the world is in turmoil. Let’s start with just a few things he has done this week. Earlier this week was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Personally, my maternal grandmother and grandfather are survivors of the Holocaust. They survived hell and back and after the war they immigrated to America.
It is common that on Holocaust Remembrance Day the President releases a statement about the atrocities that occurred during the war and the rise of anti-Semitism. Our current President did no such thing. He did not mention the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. He did not mention the rise of anti-Semitism. He did not even mention the word Jew in his statement. Let’s give the President the benefit of the doubt for a second, maybe he accidentally omitted it (not sure how that is possible, but bear with me). But no, the President backed up his statement describing how many others were killed in the Holocaust. That is true and they should get referenced too because what happened to gypsies, gay people, disabled people and many others is absolutely horrible. But not mentioning Jews on Holocaust Remembrance day is the most absurd thing I have seen in a while. My grandparents did not survive in order to be forgotten.
My grandparents have been on my mind a lot recently. A little before World War II and during World War II my grandparent’s families tried immigrating to America but were unsuccessful. The United States had a quota of how many Jews they were letting inside their borders and also were not accepting immigrants at all. People feared German spies coming into America just like people fear terrorists today. Right now, in 2017, we have closed our borders to refugees, Muslims in particular. But barring all people from a particular country will not stop terrorists from coming in, it is just anti-Muslim. That is not the America I grew up in.
Emma Lazarus wrote on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” These refugees are tired, poor, and yearning for freedom, but America has said no to them. America was founded as a sanctuary for people who were religiously oppressed. Those people were Christian so because someone does not look like them, act like them, or pray like them then they cannot enter our country. We cannot be a country that does not allow people to enter because of their religion. As a Jew, I know how that ends too well.
I don’t know about you but this is not the country I was born in. My America is a country of hope, inclusion, and togetherness. Today’s America is not what I am used to but that does not mean we should give up. My family has joked about moving, but you can’t move because that lets the bad win. We all have to stay and fight. We have to stand up for the people who cannot stand up for themselves. When America said no to my grandparents, they were alone and we cannot let anyone else feel like that. Refugees and others oppressed should know they are not alone, but there is a huge contingency fighting for them and giving them a voice. So stand up, call your local senators and representatives, and fight for equality.