George Washington in his 1790 letter to the Newport Jewish Community wrote” It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support…
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
It is obvious that in light of Saturday’s horrific events in Pittsburgh we have not yet lived up to Washington’s expectation. Mindful of those events and the fact that we are just days away from the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht when vitriolic ideas turned to deadly action, I’ve scrapped the library column that I had ready to go for this week. Instead what follow is a list of resources about dealing with unsettling situations and a list of books that show people-especially Jews and non-Jews- getting along.
Adults, however, might want to start with New York Times Deputy Washington Editor’s (((Semitism))): being Jewish in America in the age of Trump. After being attacked by the alt-right, Weisman tried to understand what was happening and to give suggestions for dealing with the resurgence of anti-Semitism.
Multiple education resources are available to help children and parents understand both anti-Semitism in general and specific events like the shooting in Pittsburgh:
Books for children:
Williams, Yaffa & Fatima: shalom, salaam. An adaptation of an old legend where two people overcome their differences to help each other.
DaCosta, Snow in Jerusalem. Two boys have a winter adventure in Jerusalem and form a tentative friendship.
Snyder, Baxter the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher. A series of misunderstandings leads to a warm message of welcome and community.
Taylor, All-of-a-Kind Family (series). Many of the episodic chapters concern the characters’ interactions with the larger community.
Polacc, Trees of the Dancing Goats. A Jewish family comes to the aid of its ill neighbors and the friendship is returned.
Elvgren, Whispering Town. During the Holocaust, neighbors in a small Danish fishing village shelter a Jewish family waiting to be ferried to safety in Sweden
Marsh, Nowhere Boy. A riveting story of family, sacrifice and the friendship between a young Syrian refugee and an American boy living in Brussels.