Jeremiah Katz never thought he’d see this day, not in America. His youngest grandson, named after his deceased senior uncle, Ezekiel Katz zt”l, at his bris (some of the Goyim call it the Jewish name day), and the mohel, Bernie Posner says afterwards that he’s getting harassing phone calls and texts.
“What’s all this?” Jeremiah, his son Michael, Bernie, and some of the other men were on the back patio sipping drinks and speaking in hushed whispers in case the neighbors were listening.
“It’s true,” Bernie put his hand on Jeremiah’s forearm as if to emphasize his words. “The cowards won’t even use their real names. These anti-semites say it’s harmful to our sons and even barbaric. I know two other mohels going through the same thing.”
“Have you called the police?” Michael had never faced this sort of thing the way his elders had and still had a tough time believing it.
“I tried, but they said there’s nothing they can do if these so-called protestors stay anonymous.”
“I’m seeing more of this kind of harassment all the time.” Isaac Glazier had been Jeremiah’s best friend for over forty years, ever since their families had moved together to San Francisco. “I was walking in a park the other day, and a bunch of kids ran up to me and started yanking at my tzitzit. I tried talking to their parents, but they just laughed. Called me an “old Hebe.” It’s shocking.
“We are only being observant. I thought these days were over, at least in this country.” Jeremiah tossed back the remainder of his bourbon, feeling the warmth spread through his stomach.
“These contemporary times, especially in more liberal parts of the country. We used to be safe here, but they think they have the right to tell us how to be Jews.” Isaac shook his head.
“It can’t be all that bad, is it?” Michael didn’t want to disbelieve his elders, but the City was his home, the place where he wanted to raise his children.
“I’ll tell you the truth, son, someday, it won’t be just texts and phone calls. They’ll come for us again, just like the Nazis did, torching our synagogues, our Talmud, and our Torah. They say they’re tolerant, but not of the Orthodox. If we were like the liberal Jews, it would be different. They assimilated.”
“No, he’s right, Michael.” Bernie leaned toward the younger man. You can be any kind of different in the world, from any other country, speak any other language, and they’re ‘tolerant’ and ‘inclusive.’ But be an Orthodox Jew, speak Yiddish, wear a long beard, dress modestly, don tzitzit, and they think you’re some sort of throwback to the dark ages. I don’t know if I can stay here much longer. I’m too old for this sort of thing.”
“Where would you go?” Jeremiah secretly felt the same way, but he couldn’t pick up and abandon his children and grandchildren.
“I don’t know. Someplace where they don’t hate observant Jews.”
“Where’s that? The whole world has been trying to make us extinct for thousands of years.”
“And Baruch Hashem, they haven’t succeeded.” Bernie reached for the open bottle of Jack Daniels with shaking hands.
“My son is named for a Holocaust survivor, Dad. We’ll survive, too.”
“I hope you’re right. If ever we needed Moshiach, it’s now.
I wrote this for the Saturday Mix – Same Same But Different, 11 August 2018 challenge hosted by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The idea is to take a list of five words and use their synonyms to craft a poem, short story, or other creative work. The orignal words are below and they synonyms I used are in parentheses. I bolded the words in the body of my story so the reader could pick them out more easily.
3.birthday (name day)
I suppose this story requires some explanation. Jewish boys are circumcised as commanded in the Bible on their eighth day, and in many Jewish communities, he is named on the same day, usually after a deceased relative. A mohel is a Jewish person trained to perform circumcisions, the ceremony is known as a bris.