Shame on Antisemitism

Dear Editor:

I read the Rockaway Times, April 13, 2023 article, “Antisemitism Bookends the Peninsula Over Passover Weekend”, including Mr. Gitter’s report with dismay.

Author, Ursula Hegi, describes life in a small German town during the WWII era through the eyes of a disabled young woman in her book, “Stones From the River.” She witnessed three categories in response to the arrival of Hitler’s propaganda youth to her town.

There were those neighbors who swallowed the propaganda hook, line and sinker. They were willing to view their Jewish neighbors who they grew up with, lived with, and shared a common tranquil existence, as newfound enemies of the Aryan nation.

The second group were opposed to the national movement to demonize and eventually eliminate Jews and other undesirables from Germany and the rest of Europe. The message from Hitler and his emissaries was appalling, but they were unwilling and afraid to stand up for their fellow citizens.

The last group were those heroes who chose to be righteous and protected their Jewish friends and neighbors.

The prevalence of antisemitism in our small and geographically isolated community may come as a surprise to some but it’s real and disturbing. Teens like those Mr. Gitter encountered are victims of their parents’ biases which grows into a feeding frenzy of hate and bigotry, especially when fueled by alcohol. A true shame for a community that shared disasters, loss and a common effort requiring resiliency and bravery. The anti-Semitic sentiment that exists is not the backbone of our community. Bravery, tolerance, empathy and compassion is.

In which of Ursula Hegi’s group do we want our children to be part of? The group that lurks in darkness and exemplifies cowardice or the one that represents the best of humanity and our country?

The ‘museum’ Yad Vashem (in Israel) celebrates those bravest souls of humanity and serves as an example and a beacon. God bless America.

John H.

Rockaway Stuff

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