Daniel Rosen

When My Grandfather was 13

When I think back to my grandfather’s experience at 13, standing alone in the synagogue on the “Night of the Long Knives” in Germany in June 1934, it’s a story that’s deeply ingrained in my childhood. Nobody showed up to his bar mitzvah, this event deeply scarred him and stayed with him his whole life,

When my father was 13 in 1960, there was a contrasting image of hope and celebration. He had a beautiful bar mitzvah surrounded by many attendees.  At this time, four years before the civil rights legislation , there were still many barriers towards Jewish people success. my fathers recollection of signs barring Jews from pools and clubs serve as a reminder of the persistent discrimination.

My own bar mitzvah at 13 in 1993 took place in a time where anti-Semitism seemed to be relegated to stories of the past. It felt like a time of possibility, with imperceptible traces of anti-Semitism. However, as my daughter approaches her bat mitzvah in 2024, I see a resurgence of anti-Semitism reminiscent of darker times. It’s a sobering reminder that hatred doesn’t disappear; it lingers, waiting for moments of uncertainty to resurface.

Reflecting on the broader historical context, I recognize that anti-Semitism has persisted throughout history, woven into the fabric of society. Yet, there’s solace in the fact that violence and discrimination have significantly decreased over time, a testament to the progress made by past generations. However, this progress is not uniform, and setbacks are inevitable.

Our fight against anti-Semitism cannot exist in isolation; it’s part of a broader struggle against all forms of racism and bigotry. The recent influx of anti-Semitism stemming from the Israel-Palestine conflict adds a new dimension to our challenge, demanding a recognition of the pernicious anti-Semitism emanating from certain groups.

The concept of Tikun Olam, repairing the world, has always resonated with me as a call to help others who suffer as we have in the past. I believe that we, as Jewish people, must re-include ourselves in this mission, recognizing that by repairing the world, we also save ourselves.

About the Author
Daniel Rosen is the former leader of the TorchPAC pro-Israel group at New York University whose activism against campus antisemitism was reported on in the New York Post, the New York Sun, and multiple Jewish newspapers as well as the Village Voice. He worked for the Jewish Agency and now serves as co-CEO of a local family business. Daniel has also been published in, Israel national news, Times of Israel blog, frontage magazine, and the Long Island Jewish world. currently, Daniel is the founder and president of Minds and Hearts a pro Israel advocacy group.