Last year, when I read and reviewed Alvin H. Rosenfeld's compelling book, Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives, part of me kept hoping he and other contributors to the book were overstating the case that anti-Jewish thinking and actions were on the rise all around the world.
But it turns out that Rosenfeld, founding director of Indiana University's Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, was quite on the mark when he wrote that “A post-Holocaust antisemitism is today a fact of public life, increasingly so on a global scale.”
This recent article in The New York Times focuses on how this increase in antisemitism is being experienced in Europe today.
It gives Jews, currently in the midst of their High Holy Days, something more to worry about but it also gives us non-Jews a challenge to look into why this ancient hatred seems to be growing in strength these days and what we can do about that.
Modern antisemitism, as we know, has roots in historic anti-Judaism, traditionally preached by Christianity until quite recent times. For my essay on that subject, look under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.
My essay begins with the start of the Jesus Movement, which eventually became Christianity. But for a longer view of anti-Judaism, I recommend a relatively new book by David Nirenberg called Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, which traces this bigotry all the way back to ancient Egypt.
The recent Times piece raises the question of whether antisemitism is gaining so much momentum in Europe today that it's increasingly acceptable to hold and spew anti-Jewish views. The answer clearly seems to be yes.
We certainly know that such thinking and actions are visible in this country, too, as evidenced right here in the Heartland by the Palm Sunday shootings at two Jewish-based institutions in suburban Kansas City. So the question is what we're doing to stop this and to educate our children so they can be part of the solution, not a continuation of the problem.
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A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR CONTINUES CONTRIBUTING
As antisemitism continues to be a problem, some of the victims of it continue to work toward healing and restoration for Jews who survived the Holocaust. Among them is Rose Gelbart of suburban Cleveland, about whom Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn and I wrote in our book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. As this story reveals, her work and the work of others has resulted in Germany adding funds to support Holocaust survivors who were children in World War II.