Why no one can talk about the attacks against Orthodox Jews

By | December 29, 2019

Batya Ungar-Sargon writes:

There’s a poem Jews sing every evening after lighting Hanukkah candles. It’s called “Maoz Tzur” — Rock of the Ages — and was written during the Crusades, one of the many times when Jewish blood ran through the streets; its lines are laced with the tragedy and longing that typifies Jewish liturgy.

One chokes me up every time I sing it – eight nights every year: “Our salvation takes too long, and there is no end to the bad days.”

The words always called to mind Jews practicing their religion during some long-ago horror – the “bad days” of murdering Crusaders and marauding Cossacks, the bad days of pogroms, the bad days spent starving in ghettos and concentration camps. Wherever they were, Jews lit candles and sang this song, waiting, waiting for salvation. How fortunate are we to live in a time without such fear, I would think, tears creeping into my eyes and the words catching in my throat.

The bad days are back.

Orthodox Jews are living through a new age of pogroms. This week, as we celebrated the Festival of Lights, there were no fewer than 10 anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area alone: A 65-year-old man in Manhattan punched as the assailant yelled “Fuck you, Jews.” A 67-year-old man and his 6-year-old son attacked by a group of teenagers in Brooklyn. Three women slapped in the face by a woman who confessed it was, simply, because they were Jews.

And last night, on the seventh night of Hanukkah, a man wielding a machete the size of a broom charged into a Hanukkah celebration in a rabbi’s house in the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Monsey and stabbed five people, two of them critically.

But this is not some Hanukkah fluke. Just a few weeks ago, a kosher supermarket in Jersey City was shot up by extremists, three people killed in cold blood. The target, Jersey City’s mayor said, was a school upstairs, where 50 Hasidic children were hiding under tables, terrified as the shots went on for hours.

That supermarket shooting also didn’t come out of nowhere. For those paying attention – not enough people, sadly – these attacks are part of what has been an increasingly frequent series of violent outbursts targeting Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn over the past two years. [Continue reading…]

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