For Jewish refugees like my parents and me, fortunate to have been welcomed by the United States after leaving the Soviet Union, it’s been shocking to witness the recent outbreak of anti-Semitic violence on the streets of the country we revere.
The world’s oldest hatred has haunted the Jewish people as long as Jews have been a people. We have been enslaved in Egypt, kicked out of our biblical home in Israel by the Romans, burned at the stake in Medieval Spain, massacred in Eastern European pogroms, and just about exterminated by the Nazis.
My own family has been victimized by virulent anti-Semitism. My great grandmother died of cold and starvation on the streets a Nazi ghetto. My grandparents, with whom I shared a room for the first eleven years of my life, barely survived the Holocaust.
My parents endured the bleak, daily anti-Semitism of the Soviet era, which attempted to snuff out our Jewish heritage. It was not uncommon for me to be called a zhid (“kike”) in the school yard. That’s why we desperately wanted to get out of the USSR and go to the U.S., the goldene medina (“golden land” in Yiddish). Eventually we did.