While scrolling through Twitter this morning, I came across a tweet reading, “Election results might be delayed”; a warning to the public that as November 3rd comes and goes, there is a good chance for the United States to tumble more significantly than we have seen in recent history. As we approach what might be the most turbulent presidential election in the history of the United States, it is becoming increasingly clear that nobody is going to be able to predict what will happen in the coming days. In the movie The Big Short, which depicts the economic crash of 2008, Steve Carrell plays banker Mark Baum who remarks that “In a few years people are going to be doing what they always do when the economy tanks. They will be blaming immigrants and poor people” At times like this in history, when so much is uncertain, it is often the marginalized groups who bear the brunt of revolutionary change.
Understanding this fact means that as a community, the American Jewish community must understand how quickly circumstances can change. It is often said that we must remember and learn from history or else we are doomed to repeat it, but for the Jew it will always be different. The Jewish people need to remember and learn from the past as a means of predicting and dodging the rising and falling tide of Antisemitism that is pervasive throughout history. As we come to a time when things could change rapidly, it is important for the Jewish community in America to prepare itself for what may be to come. I am not meaning to predict violence against the Jewish community, but it would be foolish not to acknowledge that right now, in the United States, the ingredients are present for a massive change to the status quo.
This is not a problem exclusive to our current situation; the American Jew has long been extremely comfortable in his position as an equal part of society. It is imperative to remember, however, that the Jews of Europe were also comfortable in their equality, and patriotic to the states to which they belonged, until those states turned on them. As the community begins waking up to the fact that both antisemitic rhetoric and violence are on a roaring rise in America, we must take steps accordingly to ensure the security of our communities as we enter this period of great uncertainty.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, I urge the Jews of America to stay safe and stay vigilant.
אם אֵין אֲנִי לִי, מִי לִי. וּכְשֶׁאֲנִי לְעַצְמִי, מָה אֲנִי. וְאִם לֹא עַכְשָׁיו, אֵימָתַי:
“If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when?”