A sudden, vicious air pocket jolted my plane as I was returning from a newly completed marker project in Spokane, Washington. My society, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation had marked the site of the first permanent Jewish house of worship in Washington State. I had been unable to interest any Jewish group or community in Washington State to assist. The marker came about because of the efforts of a remarkable Christian woman who believed. Emily Sue became my partner.
The marker would be seriously damaged twice by anti-Semitic vandals. The third marker was paid for and replaced by the Spokane community. They were disgusted and enraged that their community was branded as a city of hate because of a few vicious bigots.
It was not the first time, nor the last that Christians were willing to tell the Jewish American story and Jews were not.
The fasten your seat belt sign came on. I put away my laptop as the plane bounced hard from turbulence. I reached for the airline magazine in the seat pocket in front of me. An article caught my attention. It was about Deadwood, South Dakota. Deadwood was one of the badest of the bad, meanest of the mean, gold mining boom towns in Western American history. Wild Bill Hickock, the famed gunslinger, lawman, met his maker with a bullet to the back of the head, holding a hand of aces and eights, the “Deadman’s hand” in a Deadwood saloon.
I knew that the first mayor of Deadwood was a Jew, Sol Star. Deadwood gets a million visitors a year. It is about 50 miles from Mt. Rushmore, the iconic symbol and greatest artistic accomplishment of Ku Klux Klan associate, anti-Semitic sculptor, Gutzon Borglum. I wondered if I could get a marker about Jews in Deadwood. It would be a stick in Borglum’s eye.
Back in Maryland, I reached out to Jim Wilson, the director of the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission. I proposed that JASHP would be willing to fund a series of historical markers in Deadwood that would tell about Deadwood’s Jewish history.
Having been schooled in the Jewish narrow-minded, Eastern liberal mindset that everyone in flyover country is a bigot, I expected to hear – Jew Drop Dead.
I was astonished when Jim said “Sure! Come on down.” I did and three historic interpretive markers, complete with large Stars of David were prominently erected in Deadwood to proclaim and proudly affirm its Jewish historic link.
Over the years some of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation efforts have earned “coveted” honorary mentions in anti-Semitic publications such as Storm Front and other sites. Threats from Neo-Nazis were heard when JASHP first did the Leo Frank memorial in Georgia and recently with the Van Eeden project in North Carolina. Jews came out in support, but it is the American Christian community who comes out in numbers.
At one particular Yom Tov table, the Holocaust survivor conversation between my mother and her sister rattled and melted into my child’s soul. Casually, my mother reminisced with her sister, “Remember that time we stood for roll call at Ravensbruck, and the Nazi officer walked up to the woman next to you and shot her in the head”, the conversation went. In their minds, in my child’s mind, and in the air of my Yeshiva, a goy was a goy was a goy. The message, goyim, bottom line, are all anti-Semites.
How untrue that is.
I was in Jerusalem wandering along Emek Refaim, fuming, having dealt with Israelis who wanted my funding for the unique Stephen Norman educational garden on Mt. Herzl. They would not respond to my concerns. The gates to the Templar Cemetery were open. Not being a Cohen, I wandered into the “outdoor museum” and made an incredible discovery. I found the grave of “John the Priest”.
In Hebrew, it was written, Yohanan HaKomer. Literally, John the Priest, because there were no terms to distinguish between Christian religious leaders, a Priest, a Minister, a Reverend. In Hebrew, they were all the same, goyim, Christian Priests.
Rev. John Stanley Grauel was a secret Haganah operative who was deliberately placed on the Exodus. It was his testimony to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine that changed the ultimate vote for the partition and birth of Israel. The Haganah put him on the Exodus to be able to tell the story. They knew an anti-Semitic world would never believe a Jew’s testimony. Jews lie. But a Christian man of God telling the about the Exodus was a different thing. And it was.
Researching Grauel’s story, I contacted the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. They helped me look for sources. They also mentioned I might inquire about Rev. William Hechler, Rev. William Blackstone, and Col. John Henry Patterson. I did and discovered that there were Christians, for various reasons, some religious and some not, who had done extraordinary things to bring about the birth of Israel. They did what no Jew could do to help the Jews precisely because they were not Jewish. They fought the anti-Semites along with the Jews. And the Jews did not remember them.
Nor do the Jews remember, it is the Christian Zionists who are Israel’s best friends. When no government in the world would recognize Jerusalem as the Capitol of Israel, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem stood a lonely vigil in Israel’s support.
It was President Trump that ordered the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The ICEJ was no longer alone.
The horrific slaughter of innocents in Pittsburgh crawls in one’s stomach with sickening bile. An anti-Trump, neo-Nazi, sub-human human has become the feared false face of America. It was Christian police who rushed to the synagogue to defend the unarmed Jews being slaughtered.
Political demagoguery has begun. Vote against Trump, the left is urging. Vote for gun control so that no Jew can defend themselves. Vote for the party that has not refused to sit on the same stage as vicious anti-Semite Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Vote for identity politics that pits one group against the other. Vote for the party that has more and more Congressional seats and candidates who are openly, socialist and anti-Israel.
Tuesday is the election. How will American Jews vote? Probably, not right.