I am Jewish. If you know me personally or have followed me online for any period of time, you should already know this. Being Jewish is a central part of my identity. It’s not just a religion or belief system I follow, or how I was raised—it’s who I am. It’s literally in my blood. 23andMe shows I am 99.96% Ashkenazi Jew, and nothing else. Your DNA may map to countries, mine does not. It doesn’t matter how often I go to synagogue, how closely I observe traditions, how well I speak Hebrew, how much I like gefilte fish, I will always always always be Jewish.
There are approximately 16 million Jewish people on Earth. That’s about 0.2% of the world’s total population. Compare that to ~25% of the world identifying as Muslim and ~31% identifying as Christian. Just to give you a sense of how few of us there really are.
At the turn of the 20th century, my great grandparents left Russia, Poland, and Lithuania, and boarded ships headed to Ellis Island. All four of my grandparents were born in NYC, my parents were born in NYC, I was born in NYC. I have a large and tight-knit extended family spread across the United States.
Some of my great grandparents’ siblings stayed in their homelands. They were driven out of Europe during the Holocaust, and eventually made their way to Israel through “displacement camps.” As a result, I have a large branch of my family in Israel, now four generations deep. I have visited their towns. I have eaten at their dinner table. My cousins have toddlers.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because maybe you don’t know many Jewish people, or maybe you don’t know any Israelis, and maybe everything that is happening right now—all the way over there—feels totally abstract and unrelated to you in any way. Maybe it feels easy to ignore.
Now you know someone whose cousins can’t get home because the airports are closed. Now you know someone whose cousins serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and are being drafted and are doing ambulance shifts and delivering aid. Now you know someone who has Israeli babies they are desperate to protect.
My heart is broken for all of the Israeli and Palestinian civilians who have been kidnapped and tortured and killed, for their families and loved ones who have to endure the horrors and the loss, for my family and friends and clients who are doing everything they can to stay safe and take care of their neighbors, to the 15 million innocent human beings of Palestine and Israel who are disposable casualties to their radical governments and terrorist organizations whose obsession with power will eventually kill us all.
This isn’t “over there.” It’s happening to me. So it’s happening to you.
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