I remember thinking “I just made myself a target.” the first time I placed the Menorah in the window at the new apartment my Jewish boyfriend and I moved into. Little did I know that I had moved into a building owned by a Jew, in a predominantly Persian Jewish and Japanese neighborhood, with most local businesses being owned by Jews. Welcome to Los Angeles!
After a couple of years, my Jewish boyfriend became my Jewish husband and I married into a Jewish family. A lot of our friends are Jewish, I participate in Jewish holidays and go to Jewish functions. As a person raised Judeo-Christian, I have come up against a lot of challenges and have not been fully accepted by some in my new community, but accepted by most. My husband and I are blessed to have each other as neither of us practice the religion we were brought up in, but still participate in rituals and ceremony that are culturally tied to them. The hanger at our door says, “Shalom Y’all!”, one of our favorite gifts from my Mother-in-law.
Fast forward another few years and our family has grown. My brother has had two children and my husband’s siblings have had five in total. That is seven nieces and nephews, five of which are Jewish! During this time, my Mama and I became increasingly interested in our ancestry and decided to have our DNA testing done. Well, come to find out, my Mama came back with a very small percentage of her DNA as European Jewish! And because Judaism is a matrilineal society, I am technically Jewish! My Mama, brother and I are Jewish.
It turns out that there were European Jews in the South as early as the 1700’s and early 1800’s, immigrating and assimilating into Southern culture to escape economic hardship and anti-Semitism in Europe. Sound familiar? Come into the present moment and look at what is happening in our country. Immigrants who need and have been promised the protection of the United States are being turned away. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. You may say anti-Semitism has always existed, that’s just the way it is. NO. Anti-Semitism is not new, but it is the first time that MY NIECES AND NEPHEWS are the targets of bomb threats and anti-Semitic rhetoric. This is the first time they are growing up in a country where the President of the United States’ right hand man is a white nationalist. They will already grow up knowing, due to our society, they are “different” because they are Jewish. But now will grow up “scared” and “fearful” and “timid” if things continue down this very crooked path. Please pray for my family and please pray for our country. Please pray the hate away and that it be replaced with tolerance. Please know, that if you thought you didn’t know any Jewish people, that you know one now. That you, yourself may be Jewish, and it could happen to you. LOVE “OTHERS” ….BE HUMAN…. And BE BLESSED.
In Light and Love,
Tammy Minton Gitter