My Nana told me the story of how, when she was very young in Tsarist Russia, her parents hid her under the hay in the barn to save her from the violence of the progrom. It sounded like an exciting adventure to me.
In fact, 3 year old Rose Gishman, my Nana, lived in Kishinev in 1903 where, over a three day period, 49 Jews were murdered, over 600 women were raped and hundreds more were injured.
In its 1903 reporting of the Kishinev pogrom, the New York Times stated:
The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babies were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and bloodthirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror, and the city is now practically deserted of Jews.
The Kishinev massacre was only one of the last of a wave of many anti-Jewish riots that swept Russia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jews were falsely blamed for the current economic and political conditions and scapegoated by the dominant white, Christian populace, priests and government. Attacks were carried out by railway workers, industrial workers, and small shopkeepers and craftsmen but condoned, permitted and even organized by the authorities.
My Nana's family survived, fled Kishinev and made their way to the United States. I carry their history in my DNA.
Learn more about how a small progrom in Russia changed the course of history. The Kishinev pogrom was a pivotal event in the history of modern anti-Semitism, the rise of Zionism, and, as a symbol of racist violence, a catalyst for the founding of the NAACP in 1909. Published this year, Zipperstein's well documented work looks at the historical context of racial violence in Russia (pogroms) and the US (lynchings) and how they set the stage for what was to come, even as a prototype for the Holocaust itself. Available on Amazon.
Anti-Semitism - Is there are part of you that holds some truth in the following beliefs?
• Jewish people are smart and good with money
• Jews controlled the Atlantic slave trade
• Jews control the media and Hollywood
• Jews are greedy and money-grubbing
• Jews like to play "victim"
• Jews have too much power in business
• Jews have too much influence in US politics
• Oh, come on, Christmas is for everyone!
• Jews care more about Israel than the US
• Jews engaged in blood libel (Jews used the blood of
Christian children for ritual)
• Jews killed Jesus
• Jews plan world domination (see
"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion")
• Jews are bookworms, not athletes
• If you want a good doctor, lawyer or accountant, find a Jew
As a Jew, even I hold some of the above beliefs, to some degree, at some times. Holding such beliefs disempowers and minimizes me. This behavior characterizes Internalized Oppression. If you are Jewish, what false beliefs have you taken on about your being Jewish? How do they impact how you show up in the world?
Hate crimes are hate crimes...
"Do not think this attack is only about Jews. It may start with the Jews, but it never ends there. And conversely, it may start with others - Muslims, African Americans, LGBTQ-identifying folks - but it will ultimately reach Jews."
Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University and author of the forthcoming Antisemitism: Here and Now, on the recent Tree of Life Synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh, in the Nov 12th Time magazine.