I've been feeling unsettled since I first saw Twitter last Friday morning, that hostages had been taken, and eventually were killed, at a Kosher market in Paris. So many news stories over the past year have been unsettling--far too many--but the Jewish aspect of this attack hit me on a different level.
Rationally, statistically even, I know that the odds of being personally hurt in an attack like this are extremely low. But this post isn't about being rational or carefully calculating the odds. It's about how I feel knowing that my people are being targeted doing an everyday thing, something that harms no one, something I have done and will continue to do.
It's different than the situation experienced by many other minority groups, because while I don't hide my religious status, it's not as obvious either. I don't have to fear the kinds of systemic discrimination that accompany virtually every aspect of life for other minority groups. I could even live my life in a way that limits the opportunity to be a victim of one of these targeted events. I could never enter a synagogue, or shop at a Judaica store, or attend a Jewish film festival, or dance at a Jewish wedding held in a hotel ballroom. But then I wouldn't actually be Jewish, at least not in how I define that in my life.
So I keep going. The next morning, I attended services at my synagogue that had been specifically coordinated by the Sisterhood group. I had the high honor of carrying the Torah scroll throughout the congregation before it was used in the service, stopping so hundreds of congregants could touch their prayer shawls and books to the scroll. Over the course of the morning, I was reminded so many times that the Jewish people will have a future. A two week old baby was welcomed into the congregation, surrounded by three other generations of his family. Our high school youth group had a leadership convention, and they received a special blessing. A college a Cappella group from the University of Pennsylvania sang us songs urging peace. These kids are all just starting out. They will keep going, too.
I keep going. I’d like to say, I keep going, and I don’t think twice about it. But I do think twice, three times, four times. I think about how I could protect my children if the horrific were to occur. I pray that I am never tested in that way. I think about how I work hard to teach my children not to hate. I pray that other parents are doing the same.
I can’t say I’m not afraid. But I think, and I pray, and I keep going.