Hamas terrorism and US antisemitism cast shadow over Passover for American Jews

from USAToday,

Jews will gather Monday for the Passover Seder as we have for centuries. Children are taught to ask four questions with the opening, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” But this year, there is a fifth question American Jewish families will ask at their Seder table: “What is our place today in America?” This year, Jews will celebrate Passover in the shadow of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel − the bloodiest day for Jews since the Holocaust − and amid the largest surge in antisemitism ever in the United States. As we celebrate our freedom from Egypt, we will think about the Jews who are hostages in Gaza, taken captive solely because they are Jews. We will cry as we retell the biblical-era atrocities against our ancestors that rhyme with the brutality of our present-day foes. For American Jews, our current anxiety is not only out of concern for our Israeli brothers and sisters. It also is because we are shocked by those who have taken to the streets to praise Hamas and denounce Jews. Unprecedented “protests” have been mounted outside synagogues, and Jewish-owned businesses have been vandalized. And of course, there is the over-the-top animus on university campuses, where Jewish students and faculty are harassed and threatened without consequence to the perpetrators. In this context, in this moment, every American Jewish family will ask at their Seder table: “Is the golden age of American Jewry over?” A teenager will turn to a grandparent and ask: “Are we watching a replay of 1930s Germany here?” These questions will be asked by Orthodox Jews, who are acutely tuned to the patterns of Jewish history, which tells of “golden ages” that have come and gone for centuries.

And these questions will be asked by liberal Jews, who might have reservations about how Israel has prosecuted its war against Hamas but have even greater reservations about their erstwhile friends and colleagues siding with Hamas. These Jews have fought on the front lines of many progressive causes − for racial, economic, women’s, LGBTQ+ and other rights. Now, they find themselves abandoned by alleged allies when it was time to stand against Jews being victims of rape and murder.

But the Passover story makes one thing clear: In the age-old fight between good and evil, good will triumph. There’s a reason the Passover Seder is the most observed Jewish ritual across the full spectrum of Jews. It holds a message of promise that the Jewish people will endure in the face of unimaginable evil. Great empires − Greek, Roman, Ottoman and British − have come and gone, but we Jews remain.

Today, Americans have an opportunity to side with good and freedom over evil and tyranny. A society that turns the other cheek in the face of those who persecute Jews, because they are Jews, will ultimately lose their freedoms for all. From university administrators to the White House to the average man on the street, this is a decisive moment for all of us. Our choice as a country will not only determine what happens to the Jewish people, but what happens to the American people as well.

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