Regardless of our political leanings, this Presidential campaign and election brought many of us 2G’s face to face with a time we had not ourselves experienced. But one we knew all too well. Through our parents’ stories, books, films and photos we carried with us a vivid and frightening picture of the anti Semitism that swept through Germany in the 1930’s. Practically on the same day as the anniversary of Kristallnacht, we were witness to hundreds of acts of anti-Semitism, swastikas defacing Jewish and non-Jewish buildings, unprovoked acts of hatred against Muslims, Latinos and women. It was as if Wednesday morning a secret code had unlocked the floodgates and things that were never permissible suddenly became so, rules of civil behavior were overturned, and many of us wondered if these were the kinds of small events that had gotten things started then. Much is different in 2016 America than 1933 Germany – the democratic traditions, the waves of immigrants that created the USA, the protections of minorities in this country, the power of the Jewish voice here. And, the existence of Israel.
Last night a small group of Generation After 2G’s met with a facilitator who is a Board member and psychotherapist, and talked about how all of this made us feel. Did we have a more intense reaction because of our Shoah backgrounds than others did? Did our parents warnings that anti-Semitism would never die, suddenly return to haunt us? What should we be doing to make sure we didn’t miss the signs so many did in the 30’s? Talking together was a relief, sharing common feelings assured us we weren’t alone, and the universal impulse to do something united us. One person consciously stops to greet neighborhood construction workers as a random act of kindness. Others are increasing their support of Jewish and other organizations that protect civil liberties. Some gain comfort by reading Pants Suit Nation on Facebook. Some of us wondered about writing an op ed piece from the 2G perspective or endorsing letters to the Administration. I am writing this blog. The group decided to meet again. And hopefully all of us doing our part will stem the tide of bigotry and hate. Meanwhile, on December 18 our community will be gathering together to reconnect and celebrate another time in our joint history – the miracle of Chanukah.