Monday, March 6, 2023

Identities and Conflict: Recurring B Mitzvah Edition

I went to Florida for a relative's Bat Mitzvah.  As I have remarked earlier here, these events make me feel uncomfy as I am not a believer.  Many of the prayers and songs are burned into my memory based on the years I had to go to the various services before I left home.  My father kept reminding me of the Jewish opportunities at college, which caused me to wonder whether he was either relentlessly optimistic or just in denial.  So, the only times I go to synagogues or temples are wedding and Bax Mitzvahs.  

This time, something else helped make me feel a part of this community, reinforcing my identity as a Jew--the obstacles in the driveway that forced me to drive left/right/left/right and prevented me or anyone from entering the parking lot quickly.  Yes, this synagogue had an entrance similar to those at military bases... which speaks to the threats facing Jews in North America.  At the last BM in the fall, there was a metal detector and some heavy security at the door of the synagogue in NY.  It used to be the case that when I walked in a strange city, I knew I was near an American embassy when I noted an increase in security barriers.  These days, seeing such stuff tells me that I am near either an embassy or a synagogue.  

The threat of violence is real. Anti-semitism, along with the other hates--misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and xenophobia--is on the rise.  At CPAC this week, the ethnic outbidding to appeal to the whitest, most "christian" folks produced much targeting of transgender people, but these folks and their pals didn't stop there.  Nick Fuentes, who got to hang with Trump not that long ago, apparently talked about all kinds of folks (or isms, which really are targeting people) that need to go.

So, identity is about us and them.  And right now these folks out there are making me feel more Jewish because a basic part of that id is the threat, realized in pogroms long ago, in the Holocaust, and now in smaller scale violence, is increasing again.  So, I don't believe in all the religious stuff, but I do believe that there are folks out there that would love to put me and my relatives into showers and ovens.  So, I feel the us because the them is getting so toxic, so scary.

This is not going to go away anytime soon especially when major political parties--Republicans in the US--worry more about alienating the Nazi wannabe's in their base than standing up for freedom.  The supposed party of freedom is very much becoming a party of tyranny.  

While I loved seeing my extended family this weekend, I can't help but notice the dark side of identity and the threat we face. 


the traditions/service remind me of who I am not


the obstacle course into the synagogue reminds me of who I am

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