I am Ashkenazi.
Being Ashkenazi means that my people got kicked out of every country in Eastern Europe. Being Ashkenazi meant there was no place to go.
When I was 10 years old, I was sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen, and I noticed that one of her friends had tattoos on her arm. Later, after her friend had left, I asked my grandmother why she had them. She proceeded to tell me the most horrific story that I had ever heard in my life. About the six million of my people who died. I was only 10 years old, and I started to cry.
And that is when my grandmother told me something that forever changed the course of my life. She said, “Yes. But remember, you are still here.”
I am still here.
I am still here, and because I am still here, I have an obligation to speak for those who are not. I must speak for those who cannot.
Never again means never again. Never again for Jews. Never again for Muslims. Never again for Homosexuals. Never again for immigrants. Never again for the disabled. Never again for Latinos. Never again for women.
Never again for anyone.
Unity doesn’t just happen. It has to be created and now is the time.
Now is the time to pick up the phone, call your Muslim friends and say, “How are you doing today? Because I am not doing so well knowing that you are afraid.” Now is the time to call your immigrant friends and remind them that, no matter what the future holds, you have their backs. Now is the time to call your African-American friends and say, “Let’s go for a walk and talk about how we can work together to ensure that your voice is heard.” Now is the time to talk to your friends who are L,G,B,T,or Q about how you can be a better ally. Now is the time to call your disabled friends and ask them how you can help.
And if you don’t have any Muslim friends, if you don’t have any immigrant friends, any African-American friends, any Latino or LGBTQ or disabled friends, NOW IS THE TIME to change that. Ask your co-worker to lunch. Invite your neighbor in for a coffee. Offer to switch to herbal tea if they tell you they don’t drink caffeine. Ask your child’s classmate’s mother to go for a walk. Be patient if her English comes slowly. Or better yet, ask her to help you learn her language.
And, difficult as it may be, now is the time to reach out to any of your more reasonable Trump supporting friends and ask how we can reach common ground. How we can create a society where we all have a fair chance. Where we all feel represented. Where we all feel safe.
Where we all have a voice.
So we can all say,
“I am still here.”