Old Habits Die Hard


One of the great joys of taking a COSTA cruise was the international flavor of passengers.  All of the ship-board announcements were made in five languages – Italian, French, Spanish, German, and English.  My last time aboard a COSTA ship was in February 2008.  There were a few more Americans than I had seen previously and there was a large group from France, approximately 300 people.  The French lived down to all of the usual stereotypes.  They were rude.  They were pushy.  And even though they spoke and understood English, they often forced the crew and other passengers to speak to them in only French.  You know, the usual.  It also turns out that they were Jewish.  They had arranged separate, Kosher, dining and I attended services with them on Saturday morning.

There is a gunman in a Kosher meat market in Paris as I type this.  Shots have been fired.  Hostages have been taken.  These things seldom end well.  And I thought of my fellow passengers.  On the ship they were just French, not Americans or British, just French.  But in Paris, at this moment, they aren’t French.  They are Jews.  And today it is dangerous to be Jewish in Paris.

And not just Paris.  We have seen another uptick in violence.  We have seen armed gunmen invade a synagogue in Jerusalem and murder men at prayer.  We had a knife wielding man in Chabad World Headquarters in Crown Heights last month.  And other attacks around the world.

We are getting used to being under siege.  It is not unusual to have bomb-sniffing dogs visit our synagogues prior to major holidays.  There is a policeman on duty every Saturday morning outside our Solon building.  And now we lock the doors during our 7 AM morning services.

The attack in Jerusalem, guns, knives, and hatchets, against men wearing Tefillin was particularly shocking.  I think that we all know how vulnerable we are while wrapped in Tefillin and a Tallis.  But the doors were never locked and we entered and left as we wished.  Now guys take turns watching the door to make sure stragglers like me can access the building.

I know that a lot of my readers aren’t Jewish.  And I know that many of you feel that we (Americans, society, the civilized world) are way past such old issues as anti-Semitism and racism.  WE ARE NOT.

The guys watching the door don’t think that anti-Semitism is old news.  And those people being held hostage in a Paris Kosher market know how real the danger still is.