As much as I sorely miss my Father, Al Katz, Of Blessed Memory, I know that his heart and spirit, if he were now living, would be broken by today’s hideous course of events, and I ask you, on the Hebrew anniversary of his departing (Tammuz 29), to spend a few moments or hours, if possible, studying the Bible and praying for our beloved Israel and our dear People, suffering acts of anti-Semitism, which has always been personal to me.
Growing up in my Dad’s home, the effects of anti-Semitism were lived and re-lived every day. We polished our plates clean with spoons at each meal because my Father had starved for seven years in slave labor under Nazi rule. We had to finish college because my Dad had lost his education and his professional medical future to the Nazi war machine. “The only thing they cannot take away from you is your education,” he preached through the years to my brother and me.
“You must be better than anyone else – work harder – because you are a Jew,” his motto rings clearly in my head today, as throughout my childhood. I achieved and over-achieved, making not only straight A’s but often A+’s and sometimes A++’s, thanks to my Dad.
How many times have I heard the way the anti-Semitism grew bigger and inescapable, step-by-step, through incrementalism,… how my dear Grandfather, whom I never was honored to know, was kidnapped on Kristallnacht and returned, brutalized from a Nazi camp, weeks later to his family in abysmal despair? And now, throughout the world the incrementalism grows until Paris had its own Kristallnacht just days ago – smashing, bombing, and burning the shops and synagogues lovingly made by Jews, including our Holocaust Survivors.
I know anti-Semitism directed at me as well, where I live in Bradenton, Florida, and where I work in nearby Sarasota. In April 2014, during Passover, my husband and I returned home at night after a difficult and long work day to find our condominium vandalized in daylight, next to the Heritage Village West Association office, sometime between 9:30 AM and 5:20 PM. Numerous plants had been destroyed and scattered across the sidewalk. The sprinkler system was severed, and an old, filthy trash can was flung on the lawn. This act follows years of harassment against us. We are the only Jews in the HVW condominium complex of 168 units.
In 2009, a Board Director at HVW falsely spread the word that I had been kicked out of every synagogue, numbering 31, in the State of Indiana, where I was born and lived my entire life. In four years’ time, we have been prohibited from attending Board meetings, which are only held on Saturday mornings during Shabbat, and annual meetings, which have been moved to Shabbat mornings as well. Our requests for services have been resoundingly ignored or denied, and we are objects of discrimination and ostracism at home.
At work, we have just been informed, on July 23, 2014, that “under no circumstances” are we going to be allowed to renew our office lease for the Jewish non-profit organization we run to support Holocaust Survivors and other elders. After nearly two years in our office and a new law office moving upstairs months from now, we have been abruptly told that we are no longer wanted as tenants, although our relationship with the owner of the building has been persistently stable and amicable. The tides of intolerance have hit our home and work, as they have hit the world.
My poor Father should never know that his past is our present and imminent future.