Fear and faith — a Jewish woman’s experience in suburban Philadelphia
by Amanda Greenberg, a local Jewish mom, a teacher, and a candidate for the WCASD school board.
Being proudly and openly Jewish today is scary. With the recent terror attacks on Israel, seeing the horror Israel and her people are suffering is devastating. Jews have always been targets, and I fear we will be targeted even more now, even in suburban Philadelphia.
I don’t ever remember a time in my life when I’d gone to synagogue without armed security at the door. Being Jewish means there is always a target on your back. Growing up, no one at my school or in my neighborhood was Jewish, so I was always an outsider. I had to get special permission for excused absences from school during the High Holy Days because the schools didn’t have off for any Jewish holidays. I had to explain Hanukkah every year to my classmates, even though it’s not a major holiday, because they couldn’t understand why I didn’t celebrate Christmas.
I’ve always been so confused about how American Democrats support pro-Palestinian groups, which support and fund terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. When the American president gives Iran, a major financial backer of these terrorist groups, billions of dollars, how could people expect anything else? Both Obama and Biden have now sent the Iranian regime billions of dollars that have been used to murder Jews and Arabs in Israel. The same goes for the LGBT community. They will openly support pro-Palestinian organizations but if they were to ever go to Gaza, they’d be hanged and/or stoned to death for being who they are. Meanwhile, Israel has one of the largest LGBT communities in the world.
As a Jewish mom, I pass on the concept of tikkun olam (to care for/repair the world) to my children. In Judaism, we do mitzvot (good deeds) to bring light into the world and to help repair the parts that are broken. We honor people by doing mitzvot as well, to bring more light into the world. We do many things to accomplish this, from random acts of kindness to tzedakah (giving to charity) to volunteering.
I’ve had many moments of fear due to being an openly Jewish woman. I teach my children to be proud of who they are and where they come from, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t worry about them being bullied or treated horribly for being Jewish. Just today, there were parades in our very own Philly celebrating the massacre of Jews. Last time I checked, no other demographic has dealt with parades of people praising the murder of your people. Last time I checked, there weren’t any student organizations on almost every campus that promulgate hatred and wishes for exterminating a group of people except for the Jewish people. These are just a few of the things that we deal with on a daily basis.
The extremist, terrorist organization Hamas does the opposite. I’ve seen, first hand, the propaganda they give and show to the children in Gaza to train them to hate Jewish people and train them to kill any Jew. They are born to hate and are used as pawns in the sick games Hamas plays. Women and children are literally used as human shields for the leaders and are forced into extreme poverty to be kept obedient when the leaders take it for themselves. The schools, hospitals, and private homes are used to store and launch rockets into Israel. Many of those rockets don’t reach Israel and kill their own people.
If you’ve ever been to Israel, you know the real fear of terrorism that exists every day. The entire country is surrounded by countries who want them wiped off the face of the planet. Every Israeli home has a bomb shelter in it. Israelis know very well what a rocket siren sounds like and how long they have to get to a bomb shelter before the rocket lands. To some, it is unnerving to see soldiers on the streets of every city and at bus stops throughout the country with long rifles. To Israelis, it is a comfort. As Jews, we are comforted by knowing there are people on the streets to protect us. Most countries, like the United States, have volunteer militaries. In Israel, everyone is required to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces after high school. This means that almost every adult is capable and prepared to defend the people of Israel.
In the West Chester area where we live, most people cannot imagine the horror happening in Israel or the terror that we feel wondering if our children will be targeted or worse. In this hypersensitive environment of inclusion, where are the Jewish Lives Matter signs? Where are the Israeli flags flying in support of my people? I wonder if my family will be safe or attacked. Is it safe to attend synagogue or a rally in support of Israel? These are not questions I should have to consider as a Jewish woman living in suburban Philadelphia; however, these are the realities for Jews here and all over the country.