Anti-Semitism That Worries Me

May 1st, 2017 Posted by AAJC Happenings 17 comments

Over the last months, there has been a spike in Anti-Semitic activity. Graffiti has been sprayed on Jewish Community Centers, bomb threats have been called into synagogues, and cemeteries have been vandalized.  Pundits on the Left lay blame to this development, strangely, not on a metastasizing of Anti–Israel sentiment cultivated by President Obama, but on the rise of the blue-collar voter, given voice and vitality by the Trump administration.   While I disagree with their assessment, talk of blue-collar Anti-Semitism brings back memories of a day some 30 years ago when I was almost beaten up by blue-collar teens in a small town in New Jersey.

For most of high school I attended a yeshiva in Edison, New Jersey.  The neighborhood the yeshiva called home was white, working class; small homes on small lots, dignified by well-cared lawns and well-kept cars.

The locals were proud, patriotic Americans.  Every Memorial Day and July Fourth, large flags fluttered throughout the neighborhood. I distinctly remember a tremendous outpouring of support for the troops during Persian Gulf War I, in 1990.

The yeshiva was in the neighborhood but not of the neighborhood. It had bought an old City Hall building and then an old public school across the street. Most of the teens were from Brooklyn, and we were a foreign entity in the area. Many of the locals wished we hadn’t come. The neighborhood was generally safe, but there was a steady, low-level stream of anti-Semitism. It usually happened on Friday nights, when the riff-raff was on the way to or from the pub.  I remember pick-up trucks driving by, their occupants throwing pennies at us and yelling “Jew bagel.”  Every now and then a window would be broken. There was one fist fight behind the gym that ended poorly for both parties.

But the date that comes to mind was a Sunday in the Spring of 1987.  What had been a weekly Sunday afternoon pickup softball game quickly developed into a “yeshiva boys vs. local teens” rivalry.  That particular day it seemed as if every girlfriend and cousin had come to watch.  Loud music and the smell of alcohol pervaded the park.

The locals had a lead on us most of the game. They were up by two in the bottom of the ninth and we were having our last.  We had runners on first and third with two outs. A tall, strong yeshiva boy named Reuven Stengel came up to bat.  He took his time, waited for his pitch and barreled the ball deep into left field, over the road that ran through the outfield, into the cemetery behind it. The locals went stark-crazy.  As the tying run crossed third base, the teen taking third knocked him down.  Reuven, in a world of his own, ran right by both of them and scored.  The yeshiva boy on third got back up and scored after Reuven. The locals said we lost because our runners scored in the wrong order. We said we won because their man had knocked our man down.

It was chaotic and time to leave. We started walking towards yeshiva when one of the locals began to yell, “They stole my glove; the Jews stole my glove!”  I was walking with my friend Uriel Gleiberman and he was holding two gloves. I asked him who owned the second glove; he said it belonged to a friend who asked him to bring it back to school. The locals began searching us. If Uriel had picked up the wrong glove we were in for a beating. The locals searched Uriel and let him go. He didn’t have their glove.

The way I remember it, that Sunday was our last baseball game.  The rabbis at yeshiva found out what had happened and put an end to the games.

This past February, some thirty years later, I flew from Dallas to New Jersey to attend the rededication of the yeshiva building.  After the scheduled program, I drove around the neighborhood to take in the old sights.  The houses around the school were much the same, small houses on small lots, with well-manicured lawns and nice cars up front. Occasionally, I would see a new brick facade or fence added.  I sensed a definitive acceptance of the yeshiva by the locals. The school is now there for over three decades, and it is there to stay.

I drove back to the baseball field and parked the car. It was a cold day, but I stepped outside, closed my eyes and relived that Sunday afternoon in May, 1987.

I thought about primitive, blue collar anti-Semitism. And I was at ease. It was not and is not a serious deal. The primitive offering of the lower class, it is entirely insignificant.  It begins and ends with the bottom rungs of society.  The best and the brightest of the bunch, individuals who move from the lower class to the middle class, leave it behind. What I do fear, however, is Leftist Anti-Semitism.  It begins at the very top, championed by professors, academics and writers; people of influence.  It is they who have know-how and political acumen, it is they who have morphed Anti-Semitism into its newest, politically acceptable version of “Anti-Israelism.”  It is they who have forged common cause with radical Muslim groups. The combination of secular intellect and Muslim wealth and numbers is indeed a formidable threat.

That alliance will hurt us much more than teens in pickup trucks calling us names, largely because, in the sum of things, our lawns weren’t as neat as theirs, and our cars weren’t as polished.

I’d bet that most of the locals voted for President Trump.  I did too.  I am ever so glad that their patriotism blossomed, that they feel empowered to push for a stronger America.  I was an original supporter of Senator Cruz, but have come to realize that this country has moved too far from dignity and discipline to expect a majority to vote for conservative principals.  At this point, only raw, blue-collar nationalism can garner a majority to turn the tide back, and thankfully it did in the last election.

I look back at the locals in Edison, NJ and respect them. They are hard-working folk. It is they, fired up by patriotism, who will bring this country back from the brink, away from divisions of class and race, away from victimhood and dependency, motivated by a mission to Make America Great Again.

I believe that greatness is its Judeo-Christian value system.  They believe its greatness is its tenacity.   One thing I know for certain is that I want to play ball with them once again.  And this time, it will be with them, not against them.

 

The author of two books, Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt serves as the Director of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians (AAJC)

This article first appeared on World Net Daily

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17 comments

Anne Snyder says:

Never Again.

Well said, Rabbi. Sources other than the “drive-by media” indicate that a lot of the rabble-rousing Rent-A-Mobs is funded by deep-pocket so-called “progressives”, ancient views that have failed every time they have been tried throughout history, but not before a lot of innocent people got hurt. True, there is also a lot of ignorance: “You mean all those people in the Bible were Jewish?” You and Rabbi & Susan Lapin are doing a wonderful work of educating and uniting.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks Deb–
our director, Rabbi Rosenblatt, is traveling on business but I know he’ll want to respond to some comments when he returns to his office.
Cordially
RDL

Carol Blackmon says:

Cruz doesn’t qualify even for the office he occupies now. He can’t be trusted because of that fraud.

Lois Petty says:

Bless you Rabbi Rosenblatt for your forgiving attitude toward those misguided youngsters. I pray by now they are adults and have repented of the sin of anti-semitism. I am part of the Evangelical Christian community who vigorously and publicly support the Jewish people and the Nation of Israel. Friends need to stand together during these challenging times. Remembering Genesis 12:3.

Mark Lampe says:

A wonderful story Rabbi, from a gifted writer! I was engrossed in the ballgame and oddly enough though I am not Jewish I could relate to your experience as a youth. I was brought up in a low income post war neighborhood where I was accosted by ruffians on more than one occasion, perhaps wearing a uniform and attending a Catholic elementary school had drawn their unwanted attention. Black eyes and bloody noses were just a part of the initiation into the neighborhood back then and we took it all in stride.

Fast forward to 2017 and we find the world has morphed into a frightening place for Jews and Christians where 90,000 Christians have been murdered the previous year by hate filled Islamic terrorists. I just viewed a film about the horrendous sufferings of Christians in the Mid-East and in Africa and it’s clear that there are dark clouds and an evil wind blowing on our horizons. An Orwellian group-think mindset is being promoted by Marxist University professors inciting college campus rioting against free speech, clearly we are seeing a resurgence of fascism. Meanwhile J-Street Jews are unbelievably obtuse siding with those that are calling for the destruction of Israel. The very best we can do is to try and educate others, remain watchful and pray for God’s protection for our loved ones, for the President and this nation.
Shalom!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Mark–
I know that our director Rabbi Rosenblatt will want to respond when he can but meanwhile I just want to say that in one point, you are mistaken. Your good hearted nature conflicts with reality. I am sorry to say that J Street “Jews” are far from obtuse. They know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. Their “Jewish” affiliation is trumped by their secular liberal affiliation. Their hatred for the civilization of the west of which America and Israel are the last remaining voices, far outweighs their feelings for Judaism and Israel. They would not mind very much if God forbid, Israel were overrun by her enemies.
Cordially
RDL

James says:

Dear Rabbi Lapin…

It is indeed a source of great anguish to you, I am sure, that your “J Street Jews” have abandoned the Lord’s ways to become but bricks in the next Tower of Babel: “But THIS time it will be different.” It is never different, from Nimrod through Lenin, Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. I am sure there exists genuine anti-Semitism in benighted individuals who do not seek to know the truth. Yet it would not surprise me if the ‘J Street Jews” are the first to scream “Anti-Semitism!” as a political tool to smear and silence their opposition. The only problem is, too many false calls become like the boy who cried ‘Wolf!’ People’s ears become jaded and when the REAL wolf comes out of the forest, people yawn: Ho-hum. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rosalind says:

Beautiful and heart warming. ..thank you!

Becky Woodworth says:

This follower of Jesus says “thank you, Rabbi” for such an insightful piece. Our family stands with Israel.

y says:

God Bless you Rabbi, I and my families, and the Ethiopian Evangelical Churches we stand with Israel and we pray for Israel .
Shalom!

Rob ONeill says:

This is all well and good. But now how do we get the remaining 80% American Jews on board with us? Because, by and large, these Leftist Jews are the driving force behind the Progressive movement that seeks to annihilate the USA, and Western Civilization along with it. According to Rabbi Lapin, “… if you took all of the Jews out of the Progressive Movement, it would immediately collapse.” And this is so true. If there remains a certain amount of Anti-Semitism on the right, look no further for the reason… You just read it.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Hi Rob–
Our director Rabbi Rosenblatt will have his views on your question but mine is that we don’t get the remaining 80% of American Jews on board. Even if doable which is doubtful, it would consume all our energies and then some. No, we let them subside into irrelevance. We let them die out. Fundamental paradigm shifts whether in scientific discovery or in politics occur when the old generation moves off the stage. Meanwhile we work with the young helping them resist the siren call of the Left. We grow our ranks with outreach to the young and unaffiliated–those that haven’t yet thought deeply about these matters. The hard core Left believers must be abandoned to their ultimate obscurity.
Cordially
RDL

Michael Guiffrida says:

The “progressive movement” has morphed into a caricature of itself,
being more intolerant and anti-Semitic than ever before!

A. Person says:

Unfortunately bad propaganda against Jews, and now Christians, is escalating. I graduated public HighSchool in 1987. I learned nothing about the holocaust or the world leaders all murdering millions of their own people in the 1940’s. You can’t just say “Never Again.” Never Again what actually? I was taught nothing. Never Again mix ice cream with beer? I learned about the holocaust and Hitler around 1995 on The History Channel – when that channel used to teach history. The “H” for History Channel people would say stood for Hitler. Then on exactly January 1, 2009, that channel dropped 50% of it’s history and was replaced with antique garbage hunting shows. Then exactly 6 months later to the day, the remaining 50% of history shows were dropped. On that day 100% of the shows were the history of “stuff” with Joe and Frank picking garbage out of people’s garage. They think nudging real history off that channel that nobody would notice. Out of sight, out of mind. Easier to repeat that way. However,they didnt count on someone like me who notices and remembers everything. Every little moment. During the Clinton administration, in 1994/5 the Clinton admin said the holocaust did not happen. But theyforgot all the original footage was on The History Channel. Now it is off. Their mission is almost complete. In the beginning of Obamas second term, loads of fashion designers- all in the same span of two weeks- automatically had out new designs promoting Hitler and Jewish antisentiment. Look it up. Clothing marked with. Adves and crap the govt made Jews wear, etc etc etc. They are nudging a young naive mind of our youth with neverending propaganda – Just like they did when Hitler was a young boy. Hitler would walk home from school, and by the time he reached home he would have been given around 12 – 14 pamphlets of antisemitism given by peddlers or mostly were being dropped on society by airplaines. That happened for Several Years. Now we have the internet and morons who agree beforehand to participate in this rude propaganda. There is not enough space here to ever fulfill my comment. I learned nothing in school about the holocaust or ww2 . You can obviously see where we are headed. Simply saying Never Again is redundant. Words are nothing. It is about actually TEACHING something.

Susan Lapin says:

I would love it if you could point to some corroboration for the facts you’re citing. About the History channel, the Clinton admin (which doesn’t sound right to me, I have to say) and also about Germany during Hitler’s youth. I definitely agree on the overall theme that history is not taught in general and that our children will be totally ignorant if parents count on most schools.

Zoe says:

This story reminds me of when I was in high school taking math from a Jewish man. It was a public high school and everyone taking this particular very low math class was probably in a gang excepting for me and my best friend Merri who were Christians. Most of the students were rowdy and disrespectful. They started a rumor that our math teacher was a Jew (and I was sure he was). I thought they were going to razz him about it. After Merri and I discussed the fact that our main teacher/prophet/Lord Jesus was also Jewish we decided to be the first to razz our math teacher- the Jew. We started leaving the class every day by saying- “Mr….Jesus loves you and so do we! Our Lord Jesus is the son of a Jewish carpenter.” Oftentimes I have felt a little bad about razzing that teacher my friend Merri and I adored. See, this math teacher also taught shop (carpentry), and we were mocking him? Mocking us? I wasn’t really sure who or if we were really mocking but sometimes it felt like it. Looking back after reading this awesome post I think to myself that quite possibly our razzing saved our precious math teacher of worse harassment. There were two middle class white people in that math class (besides our Jewish teacher) and we were able to lovingly razz one another in kindness and love. That was also around 1987 in Columbia SC. The underground alliance of Jews and Christians- I would say… Praise God for our wonderful Jewish math teacher who was SO MUCH like Jesus! -and probably a relative…

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