Why Anti-Semitism on the Left Hurts Me More

I will always, I pray, hold onto my values for human rights and justice and compassion and fight for them in the U.S. and in Israel, and many of those values are shared with these same people. But I fear they don’t want flawed but trying hard me, us—and in fact see us as worthy of more hatred, less deserving of existence, as anyone else in this world. As generations have not wanted us before, have seen our sins as the whole of us and uniquely powerful and cruel.

I guess I can understand, now, the disbelief we read about when Jews’ friends, neighbors, compatriots turned against us in the past. I always thought now is different. It’s not.

Please don’t respond to this with any unkindness. Right now I just need support. I don’t claim to be the first of anyone to feel this way. Or that people of other groups, especially People of Color, have not also felt this way forever, and I hope I have lived a life of empathy and sisterhood in that regard. But right now am so very heartbroken and afraid. 

Susan Silverman is a rabbi and founding director of Second Nurture: Every Child Deserves a Family—and a Community, an organization focused on the fostering and adoption of waiting children and teens. She is a co-founder of Miklat Israel, to protect African asylum seekers from deportation and to create a sustainable solution for dignified lives in Israel. She serves on the board for Women of the Wall and for the International Council of The New Israel Fund. She is the author of a memoir, Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World.  She and her spouse, Yosef Abramowitz, have five children and live in Israel. @rabbasusan

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.

9 comments on “Why Anti-Semitism on the Left Hurts Me More

  1. Bobbi Zahra on

    Sadly, you’re not alone with these feelings. I see you, I hear you – I could almost be you (sans ordination!). But while I believe that many of us feel like this, the fact that we speak about it reminds us that we’re not alone – we’ve got people to lean on, even when it’s from a distance.

  2. Iiari on

    I feel very much as you do. It feels personally hurtful that progressive politics, which has always striven to protect the marginal and the vulnerable, somehow seems to no longer view us as such, or perhaps even care if we are in perpetual danger. Worse, it makes me wonder if the long held critiques of the left, that it only cares about “their favorites” and not everyone, essentially existing as a hypocritical mirror-image of the left’s own critiques of the right, have been true all along and I just haven’t seen it or ignored it. When Hilary Clinton spoke dismissively of the “deplorables,” perhaps that population is right when they allege that the left long ago stopped caring about them in the fashion that they are now stopping about caring about the Jews. We all have a lot of mirror-gazing to do here… Hopefully we left leaning Jews can learn from this to build a better political left, and one informed by our own hurt.

  3. jake morson on

    in the first sentence you use “the pittsburgh”
    then, 2 sentences later you alienate half the country by using the phrases “trump types”

    this article has a message i resonate with, but it managed to lose me in less than 60 seconds

  4. valeriekeefe on

    This is a really ciscentric and tone-policey column. Is it going to be considered unkind to express incredulity at being told one can’t respond to a seeming conflation of criticizing Likudnikism with criticizing Judaism?

    One would expect feminists to have an issue with a country saying those assigned a certain sex are not legally considered as capable of being raped as others… but I keep forgetting that there are the same disingenuous and privilege-driven claims on what feminism is as there are on what Jewishness is.

    Apparently that I’m hurt by that and my sisters are hurt by that and that that’s called solidarity is something my sisters and I are expected to take a back seat to… again.

  5. Abelardy on

    You are right! Left-wing anti-Semitism is so very dangerous because it’s respectable in polite society, and can therefore “mainstream” into America. Leftist anti-Semites have an honored place in the Democratic party, which puts them close to the centers of power. I used to be a member of the Democratic party, but I won’t rejoin until it purges itself of its bigots and anti-Semites (usually disguised as anti-Zionists).

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