Tonight, I know, is the first night of Pesach-Passover, the Jewish festive celebration of the historic/mythical tale of escape from slavery in Egypt. Being an atheist with a complete lack of interest in any religious or pseudo-religious customs, Passover has never been a holiday that I’ve really celebrated. In fact, I don’t celebrate much on any Jewish holiday (although I am interested in the history and culture of the Jewish people); but that doesn’t make me any less Jewish.
It was the Nazis who proved that Jews can’t convert, intermarry or recant their Jewishness. A Jewish grandparent on either side of the family was sufficient to merit being sent to the gas chambers, despite one’s belonging to a church.
One of the key passages in the Passover Haggadah (the guide to the evening Passover service) is a song about “what makes this night different from all the others.” Unfortunately, the answer is “nothing.” This time it was demonstrated by a vile white supremacist and antisemite who murdered 3 completely innocent and defenseless people by cowardly shooting them in cold-blood – just because he (mistakenly) believed they were Jewish. No other reason. Just because they were supposed to be Jews.
It happened only 180 miles from Omaha, at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City. One 14 year old boy with a passion and talent for singing. His grandfather, a respected family doctor. And an occupational therapist who worked with children who have impaired vision. Cut down by bullets fired by a cowardly loser, whose own life was dedicated to spouting absurd lies, hatred and violence toward others. It’s sickening to think that this coward should have been permanently jailed for incitement to murder, based on his many criminally revolting statements. He should also be tried for treason; praising Hitler, who was the enemy of the US (and many other countries) in World War II, should be grounds for treason.
Unfortunately, as the bereaved families mourn their incomprehensible losses, the Jews mourn with them. But we also mourn for centuries of this type of antisemitism. The Spanish Inquisition. The Cossacks in the Pale of Settlement in eastern Europe who gave my grandmother nightmares. The murder of ~11 million people, among them 6 million Jews. And the knowledge that, no matter who we might want to be, even if we cast our Jewishness aside – we will always need to look over our shoulders for the antisemitic white supremacists – who will cowardly murder any innocent unarmed person, as long as they can justify that their target was killing Jews.