I’m not sure how to tell my kids about anti-Semitism. I’m part of the generation of Jews that helped console Holocaust survivors. We listened to them when they visited our schools, spoke up on Seder night or took us on heritage trips to visit the camps. And, while I considered it part of our responsibility I can’t help but feel the lasting effects of being told “They killed us because we were Jewish” and more importantly, “We never thought this could happen in Berlin.”
The implication was krystalnacht clear: this could happen anywhere, even in my cozy corner of Miami.
Although I don’t have a “Holocaust could happen anywhere” mindset, I certainly have friends and colleagues who do, and I’m sure that our education played a significant role in developing this mindset. Anti-Semitism was a major part of our Jewish education and sometimes I wondered if it was a bit excessive.
On the other hand, it’s hard to close our eyes to the reality of what’s happening around us, both in Israel with the murder of the four rabbis in Har Nof and in the Diaspora in France and the UK. How do I tell my children about anti-Semitism without traumatizing them?
This past week, CASJE (the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education), in conjunction with The Jewish Education Project, brought together experts across disciplines to tackle this important question. I was surprised, especially given recent events, how many of the panelists adopted positions that relativized and even minimized the importance of Antisemitism in contemporary Jewish Education. I’ve embedded their conversation below and I’m curious if readers agree with their analysis.