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Waking up to Hate in the Morning

The ways people hurt each other never cease to amaze me. I got up early this morning because I lost a lot of sleep over an email from a young woman, the offspring of a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father, who has had too many hurtful encounters with Jews. In spite of it, she has not lost her pride in her Jewish heritage. But her heart has become the battleground over which the Jewish community struggles to learn how to deal with the people like her, the products of interfaith marriages.

And lately, I’ve listened to so many stories from people struggling with the toll Jewish infighting has taken on them. I’ve heard too many stories about people giving up on conversion to Judaism because rabbis have hurt them, instead of supported them. I’ve heard converts are being told that conversions done by certain Modern Orthodox rabbis wouldn’t be worth a dime in Israel. I have heard too many stories like these lately.

Then I read “What if Gates were an unrenowned Jewish black woman?” after a Twitter friend, @e_fink forwarded me the piece. When he asked for a comment, I wrote back that I was “so incredibly, unabashedly horrified.” Even if I could see everything from the perspective of the police officers, I couldn’t stop replaying the scene of an innocent middle-aged Orthodox Jewish black woman having to barricade herself from the cops in her own apartment out of fear.

If that is not enough, there is the headline “Gunman kills 3, injures 11 at gay club in Tel Aviv” in yesterday’s Huffington Post. How can you hate people so much that you no longer see their humanity? I don’t know. I know these stories just seem to go from bad to worst.

And as I post this, I wonder how many more strange letters I will get from strange people who as Twitter friend @jewinthecity wisely explained are “unhappy with what they’ve got going on in their life – so they want to bring others down too!” I’m sorry folks but you are sadly mistaken if you think I have to explain my life choices to you. I don’t even do that for my mother.

I’m bleary-eyed from lack of sleep so I’ll be cheesy and say it, love has got to be stronger than hate, than hurt. I have to believe it. And the more we love, the more we support each other, the more we reach out to one another (me to you, you to me through your letters, your comments), the weaker that hate becomes.

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7 thoughts on “Waking up to Hate in the Morning

  1. Ah, thank you for that post. I only wrote in a comment to someone today about the fact that different branches of Judaism just don't mix with each other, when they really, really should.

    I'm not laying blame at any particular doors – we all have a responsibility. I am soon to convert (Chanukah is the intended date) and it troubles me that there is so much in-fighting. We are a small enough community as it is – we don't need all the internal aggravation when we get enough from the non-Jewish world.

    Wishing you well.

    rachel

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  2. Rabanit Hausman-

    I think what we saw in Medinat Yisrael over the weekend, the attack in Tel Aviv & the evictions of Arab families in Jerusalem, are indicators of the national sickness of the entire Jewish nation. I pray we all make use of Elul, fast upon us, to try to find ways out of this mess.

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  3. rachel,

    While my path did not ultimately end in conversion there was a time when I was fairly seriously considering it… in fact, in Philly I was the one who located the congregation we became affiliated with, and where we were very active, at least in Reconstructionist terms (my ex was raised Reform).

    One wise thing our Rabbi once said to me was not to take the infighting and the incredulous reactions to someone choosing Judaism too personally, that it usually reflected the individual with the attitude's own insecurities and identity crisis when it came to their own relationship with Judaism.

    Perhaps that can be some comfort? Though I appreciate that your interactions may in many ways be more frequent and intense than mine were, given the branch you are finding a place within. I hope I'm not overstepping in saying this.

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  4. There is no proof yet that the shooting at that club was motivated by hatred or anti-gay sentiment.

    Also, how do you relate to a Patrilineal Jew when the branch of Judaism you chose to convert into denies them of their Jewishness and would force them to convert in order to be accepted as a Jew? This is also dehumanizing to me.

    I think of it like this- if you were to deny that they were Jewish (i.e. following the Orthodox and current Conservative position that Jewishness is matrilineal only), how would you feel if the patrilineal Epsteins and Cohens of the world denied your Jewishness on the basis of you not having “Jewish blood” and being 100% Dominican/Latina?

    I am not insulting you at all, but I am provoking thought and discussion on the issue of how Orthodoxy relates to those whom they refuse to accept fully as Jews.

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  5. Anonymous, a lot of good questions but I am sorry to say I don't have all the answers.

    Yes, I am Orthodox. It was the Reform movement that changed the rules of who is or isn't Jewish and Conservative and Orthodox Judaism did not follow suit. They stuck to the way things have always been done. But interestingly enough, I only hear Orthodox Judaism being attacked when we discuss matrilineal descent.

    Plenty of people believe that I'm not Jewish because I wasn't born Jewish. Plenty of people believe I'm not Jewish because they might not like the rabbi that converted me. I understand the analogy you're trying to make but no, I don't agree that it's the same.

    I think anyone who can't relate to a person in pain is devoid of human emotion.

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