I remember my surprise when I first discovered that one of my friends wasn’t Jewish. I was twelve; I thought everyone nice was a Jew. My public elementary school closed on the Jewish holidays; even my 3500 student L.A. high school was more than half Jewish. I was never chased home or called out on the playground (except by Jewish bullies). So when my friend and fellow banjo-player turned out to be Christian, it was a learning experience; I confronted a bias I didn’t know I had. Because the bias came from me, I thought anti-Semitism was an anachronism; yet as I got older I found it in places large and small, in anti-Israel sentiment and in scheduling conflicts at my daughter’s school. Still, my strong Jewish identity outweighed these incidents. I was secure in America’s acceptance of me. Now that security is being tested, by the President’s voice and by his compatriots complicity. Kushner, Cohn, Mnuchin, Miller, Schwartzman; Trump’s bedfellows believe they are protected by their power, but it is transient. They will be lined up with me, naked at the ovens, should the unspeakable come to pass once again. Its not unthinkable; we could lose our status in America as quickly as we did in twentieth century Germany or medieval Spain or ancient Babylon. Events of this past year make this vulnerability all too evident.
Perhaps, for now, I’m protected from the blatant depredations of bias by my skin color, by my gender, by my prosperity, by San Francisco, but no Jew will be able to hide behind that or any other imagined leveler when, demonized by both the right and the left, the rest of the country turns against us. So, country, please don’t. I mean, we’re just Jews. People of the book. We exalt learning, achievement and community, and we’re good at it. American vision, for all its faults, has given us this chance, and we owe it to that vision to speak out, to lead, to join hands in ensuring that “Never Again” applies to all of us.