I just got word that an anti-Semitic, anti-LBGT group, the Westboro Baptist Church, plans to hold a protest outside a Modern Orthodox high school in our area on Monday morning, February 27. The school is called Shalhevet, which means small flame in Hebrew. It educates kids with a religious and secular education. It certainly isn’t teaching them to hate Christians. So, what do these folks have against these Jewish teens? We live in central Los Angeles, near Hollywood, near the famous Fairfax avenue where Cantor’s Deli still serves up wonderfully-hip bagels. The school is located on Fairfax, but further south, by an area called “Little Ethiopia,” which is lined with Ethiopian restaurants.
So, why is this Christian hate-group coming here? What is their agenda? How do Jewish kids going to a Jewish school bother them? I don’t understand it. Jesus was a Jew. Okay, we are not Christian, but do they really expect to convert the entire world to Christianity? Well, maybe they do. After all, they are fundamentalists.
Maybe it was just a convenient stop after going to the Oscars and demonstrating there, because in their words (from their horribly anti-LGBT website): “God hates idols” and “God hates the media.” The members of this so-called church are right-wing, rabble-rousers with signs, who sprout up in odd places. I have been ignoring them my whole life (even when I was demonstrating against them), but now they are coming to my backyard, so I can’t ignore them.
My daughter in sixth grade hopes to go to the school, Shalhevet, where they are planning to demonstrate; my 28 year old daughter graduated from there. How does this school’s existence infringe on these folks right to be Christian? It doesn’t. So, did they pick the school because it recently passed a resolution pledging to treat LGBT students fairly and with respect?
The school is a bit more religious than our level of observance, but my daughter didn’t mind wearing a skirt every day because the education was so fantastic. The town-hall, where students decide school policy, is famous. And now the school will be famous for being singled out from all the other Jewish schools in Los Angeles (and there are many) to be demonstrated against. Or is it the students who are being targeted? I am not sure.
Will I listen to the advice of our rabbi, who sent a warning saying to stay away, because they only want to engage, and we should not feed their hate? Or will I drive by and throw some eggs out my car window? Or hire some thugs to beat them up?
I think that targeting Jews is sick. What are we doing to bother them? The founding fathers learned Hebrew. But the odd thing about history is that it does tend to repeat itself. If you are narrow-minded and fear of “the other,” that fear follows you everywhere you go. If you are scared of a man dressed as a woman going into your bathroom, you need to look inside your soul and ask: “What am I really afraid of?” Same goes for if you feel compelled to hate Jews.
The sad thing is most of these people probably know Jews and do business with them. I believe very strongly that we are put on this earth to learn and grow, and if someone is different from you, and you are not used to that – it is your problem, not theirs. You have two choices: you can a) learn about them or b) keep your mouth shut and be polite. It is remarkable how being polite gets one through most of life vicissitudes. That is until you have time to do some research and educate yourself. I would say that disrupting the education of some innocent teenagers is not polite.
In the case of segregation, African-Americans were forced to rise up, because Southern whites thought everything was fine under Jim Crow, and it wasn’t. But it’s scary to think that even if black-white relations in this country have been rocky at late, no one is saying “let’s get rid of the blacks.” At least, I hope not. So why are Jews a problem just because we exist?
How exactly do we pose a threat? I’d like to know, because maybe I could take that power and bottle it and sell it. It would be worth a lot. Jews control the world. Well, if that were true, I’d stop these folks from their fallacious activities.
On Monday morning, I may defy my rabbi, and get up early and go video tape or somehow keep an eye on the situation. Maybe I’ll send a video to the news station. Or maybe they’ll already be there.
Or maybe I’ll just sleep in. After all, as my Hungarian grandmother wisely said from the perch of her Beverly Hills home, living well is the best revenge.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.