The events at the Capitol last week affected me as a Jewish American, as an American Jew and as the mother of Jewish children living in America.
I grew up Jewish but not very religious. I still don’t consider myself very religious. However, traditions and values are some of the things I consider most important in my life. I try to instill those traditions and values in my daughters, and I work every day to raise them to be good people. One of my biggest hopes in life is that they grow up to be good people.
The behavior of the people who stormed the Capitol last week was not good. That behavior was terrible. Anyone who wears a “Camp Auschwitz” staff shirt or walks alongside someone who wears a “Camp Auschwitz” staff shirt is not a good person. Anyone who wears a 6MWE shirt or walks alongside someone who wears a 6MWE shirt is not a good person.
Do you know who were good people? The 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust and all of the families who lost loved ones in the Holocaust. I, for one, lost 40 family members in the Holocaust. They were good people. You know who else were good people? All the Holocaust survivors who survived Auschwitz and the other concentration camps as part of the Holocaust.
When I was in high school, I had the incredible opportunity to go on the March of the Living, a program through which I learned about the Holocaust alongside Holocaust survivors. I visited Auschwitz and two other concentration camps alongside those survivors. I will never forget walking into those gas chambers, seeing the enormous pile of ashes, seeing the huge piles of shoes, crutches and wheelchairs and weeping alongside other Jewish high school students as we imagined the atrocities that took place there. I will never forget those who died. I will never forget what happened there. I will never forget. Period. End of sentence.
There are so many Americans who have forgotten or unfortunately who never learned about the Holocaust in the first place. There are so many people who deny it ever happened. It is that ignorance that scares me the most. The men seen wearing those shirts at the Capitol are so incredibly ignorant.
What happened at the Capitol last week, seeing those t-shirts, thinking back to people chanting “Jews will not replace us,” it is unfathomable that this can happen and be acceptable in America. It is unbelievable how different the people who stormed the Capitol could be treated in comparison to those who protested as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is sad that on a day where we should have been celebrating a Jewish man and a Black man from Georgia being elected to the Senate we were witnessing the horrible events that took place in D.C.
When I was in high school, I was asked whether I considered myself a Jewish American or an American Jew. My answer was an American Jew because although I was American, being Jewish seemed more important at the time, especially having just come back from visiting the concentration camps with Holocaust survivors. Today I don’t know what my answer would be. I am proud to be Jewish, but seeing what I’ve seen over the past four years, I am not proud of what our country has become. I am hopeful for the future and that my daughters will be proud to grow up as Jewish, as American and as people who respect everyone no matter what their race or religion may be.