In an editorial meeting at a spiritual magazine I used to work for, owned by a church, a senior editor proposed we do a feature on all the special knowledge about money known by Jews—have a Jewish writer do it. I gasped. So did another female Jewish editor. She was kinder than I was in her explanation of why this was not a good idea. I wanted to kill the guy. He was dumbfounded by "our" problem with his idea, but finally he gave it up.
Antisemitism is in the fabric of world history. It lurks in places you'd never expect it. The stereotypes, the belief that all of "one people" are one way—although the people who think this would laugh if you put them in such a category: all white people, all Christians, all women/men/children, etc.
People's stereotypes and extreme ignorance of this history of antisemitism, and therefore the experiences of Jews—religious Jews and people like me with no religious or cultural upbringing, but whose faces tell their heritage—remains astounding to me. When you assume that people are monsters for wanting to defend themselves, when you blame people whose children were butchered in front of them, whose families were abducted, you are being unknowingly directed by antisemitism.
I keep thinking about my first novel, Plan Z by Leslie Kove. When I wrote it in the 1980s, I had no idea it would age and therefore morph as I have. First, it was a novel about war, then trauma, then seeing all the beautiful colors in the world, and in this particular moment, about the experience of being a person bombarded by other people's misconceptions of them.
My mother would be 102 today. I just read a letter she wrote to her brother in 1942 where she waxes poetic about a man she wanted to marry (not my father). "Don't let his last name fool you—" she writes, "he's one of us." Code that Jews know well, whether you grew up in the religion or not.