Yesterday a white supremacist walked into the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and shot a security guard, who died of his wounds. This past month, the FBI arrested men who were plotting to blow up synagogues in the Bronx in New York. It feels like a scary time to announce to the world that we are Jewish. Indeed, the department of Homeland Security had issued a report in April warning of possible anti-Semitic attacks by right-wing extremists.
I was sitting in my office all day yesterday watching the reports of the shooting as more information was available. I was feeling wound up. Why does my kid have to grow up in this environment? I want Jewishness to be all chocolate babka and inside jokes, not scary racists with guns. I also felt guilty that I couldn’t drop what I was doing and go down to the Boston Holocaust Memorial for the annual GLBT Pride Memorial Vigil. I want to stand up for something, if only to give someone the finger. (Though that’s not usually the source of my Jewish identity or practice, I admit that I do feel that way sometimes.)
From time to time, writers request to publish their work anonymously, with a pseudonym. Sometimes we let them, but we don’t like it in general. I was thinking about having my name on my writing here, especially since I was trying to argue with one writer that she shouldn’t be afraid of the repercussions of having her relationship with Judaism visible in the public sphere on the web. A lot of us have recognizably Jewish names, though not all. I do. My husband does.
My husband is online under his own name doing anti-racist journalistic activism. Here’s his blog, complete with a list of stories about unsolved KKK murder cases. Does it make me nervous? Frankly, yes. So far it’s only been a helpful way for him to meet journalistic sources and people from the civil rights, labor and peace movements who knew his dad in the 1960s. That’s cool. I do worry sometimes that someone will come after him, but I wouldn’t want him to stop what he’s doing.
I don’t want to get writers in trouble with their families or workplaces, or to leave a real name up when someone is being stalked. That can happen, especially to women. For the most part, though, I want people to have their names on our site and to stand behind their words.
Sometimes it’s scary to be Jewish in public. I know that. It can also be scary to stick up for what’s right, to tell the truth about who you love and to insist that your experience matters. We want to include people in interfaith families in the Jewish community and that can be hard to do if their relationships are something they feel they need to hide behind a pseudonym. So in general, if there isn’t a very good reason, we don’t like people to write anonymously for our site.
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