Why are they so anti-us?

Why are they so anti-us?

What a world we live in! And how fast the days roll by. Cute cliches. Too bad they’re true.

Wasn’t it yesterday that I stood in the line at Columbia. It was September 1983, and our second daughter, Lori, had been accepted to the first co-ed class in the school’s history. What a glorious day that was! There was music and TV coverage and excited students being welcomed to that amazing place where ideas were exchanged with other brilliant people and love of learning was in the air.

Would the girls prevail? Indeed they would. Both the valedictorian and the salutatorian four years later were girls — or women if you prefer!

Our family love affair with Columbia led to seven diplomas. One day there were two graduations at the same time, one an MA for our daughter and one a BS. My husband and I separated and each picked which one to go to. I did very well with choosing our son’s graduation from the engineering school. Our son won a major award, accompanied by cash. But, not to worry, it wasn’t exactly payback time. Lots of cash had gone to the school already, but none of it was ever regretted.

This is why today’s news reports from Columbia struck so hard. Our family history there preceded our own kids’ attendance. Other family members also had hung diplomas from there. We regarded CU as the university that had everything our family needed — academics, proximity, intellectuality, and as important as all the rest, Jew density. Jews were made to feel at home there. It had a Jewish vibe.

Not any more.

Today was a different story. Today there were demonstrations against Jewish students and Israel. Mass demonstrations. Police, as Waze likes to say, reported ahead. Lots of them, carting away enormous numbers of keffiyeh-draped students who were spouting their Jew-hatred for the world to hear and to see, thanks to the miracle of enormous television coverage.

Another bubble burst. Another premier university now unsuitable for our children. And this one, this was Columbia, to which we felt entitled as well as indebted. So sad that antisemitism has reached the pinnacles of academia. Smart people ought to know better. Obviously, Jew-hatred trumps it all.

Today is the yahrzeit, the anniversary, of my father’s death. It was 19 years ago. He had willingly followed the angel of death to join my mother, whom he missed forever. He was nearing his 98th birthday and had had a wonderful life. Now it would end peacefully.

He missed so much, so many weddings and accomplishments and babies born. But the time to go had arrived, and anyway, he would not have recognized the place where we Jews are now. These past years have been filled with multiple problems, issues without easy solutions.

Take intermarriage, for example. Many of our fellow Jews don’t regard it as a problem. It has become so emblematic of our world that more than 60 % of the marriages today are between a Jew and a non-Jew. Luckily, this underestimated number doesn’t hold true for the Orthodox. But is it really luck? Perhaps it’s by design. Perhaps if you do everything right, there’s protection. I think there is.

A reader asked me, and I am hardly a maven at all, what I would like to see contemporary Jews do to stem the tide of intermarriage. I answered, with no particular expertise I assure you, that if somehow every Jewish child could attend Jewish day schools, Jewish camps, synagogues, and Israel, without tuition, thereby increasing their comfort zones with their fellow Jews and expanding their Jewish knowledge exponentially, it would have to make a big dent in the out-marriage rate. I think! It certainly wouldn’t hurt. It’s clearly true that if your friends are all Jewish, and I admit to being a proponent of that probably unpopular concept, you are more likely to marry a fellow Jew. My personal commitment is to never attend an intermarriage. Period.

And my dad was a deep lover of Israel. He made aliyah with Mom when he was already 80 years old, and he lived in Israel for almost 18 wonderful years. He would have been extraordinarily proud to see two of his great-grandsons wearing the uniform of the IDF. And there will be more. Of course he would have been worried with the present enmity to Israel being pervasive throughout the world, but he would have been the proudest old gin rummy player you ever met!

But why can’t the rest of the world shed its Israel hatred? I cannot fathom it at all. It’s totally unreasonable. It’s totally antisemitic. Dad wouldn’t have grasped that marrying Jews could be in concert with Jew-hating. I’m really not sure that I do. Maybe the outspoken opposition to Jewish military accomplishments will somehow diminish the intermarriage rate. If only…at least we could score a victory in that corner.

To all of my wonderful readers, I hope we can solve the problems of our Jewish world and still find time to enjoy the end of the chag. It came so fast and it ended so fast. I’m only half joking when I suggest that we do Pesach for a month every four years. All that work and it’s over in a flash. Oh well. It was just a suggestion. Chag sameach one and all.

Rosanne Skopp of West Orange is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of six. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. She is a lifelong blogger, writing blogs before anyone knew what a blog was! She welcomes email at rosanne.skopp@gmail.com

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