How Would You Answer This Question?
I know that this post may bring out the trolls and may not produce the sort of feedback and discussion that I’d like, but I’m willing to take that risk. You see, this morning on the way to school, my daughter (who is now a freshman in high school [and a varsity cheerleader, if I can brag for a moment]), asked me a question that she’s asked me several times over the years. The first time that she asked the question, she was probably in 3rd or 4th grade and I was stunned. Since then, the question has been posed numerous times. Each time, as she’s been a bit older, I’ve tried to make my answer more involved, more nuanced, more … complicated. But I can tell by the fact that she keeps asking the question that she remains troubled.
So what is her question?
“Daddy, why do people hate the Jews?”
I’ve posed her query to leading scholars of Jewish history and anti-Semitism. I’ve discussed her concern with rabbis and Jewish educators. But I still don’t feel like I have a satisfactory way to answer her question. And each time she asks me, I find myself troubled by how hard it is to answer her and by how persistent anti-Semitism really is.
There are all sorts of simple answers; most, however, are nothing more than excuses, some based in ancient history, others in conspiracy or theology. But few, if any, of those responses really seem to address the core question and reflect attitudes present today.
So how would you answer my daughter’s question? How would you explain to her why people who have never met her and who know nothing about her, can nevertheless hate her, simply because my daughter would say, if asked, “I’m Jewish”?
Why do people hate the Jews?