Sometimes it’s just innocent questions: people don’t know better. A Jewish girlfriend of mine was asked if it’s true that Jews freeze the placentas of their babies and then eat them. No. But there are definitely versions of the blood libel still around—[the lie] that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make their matzo for Passover. . . .
I have a classmate who is Egyptian. She came with me to synagogue once and was looking through the prayer book, which is in Hebrew and English. She was looking for the part where it says we should kill all the Arabs, because that’s what she was always taught. But there isn’t anything in the prayer book or anything else about that because Jews don’t believe that. We don’t teach our children to hate Arabs or that they or any other non-Jews must die.
She also thinks that Jews rule the U.S., which a lot of people think. We don’t control America. In fact, until very recently, in many ways we were similar to blacks. It was fashionable to dislike Jews. We got blackballed from country clubs. If you look at charters for covenant-controlled communities, the old charters will actually list in their rules: “No blacks, no Jews. Mow your lawn once a week.” They just put it in like it was a normal thing.1
1“There’s Something About the Jews,” in Gaskins, I Believe In...: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Young People Speak About Their Faith (Chicago: Cricket Books, 2004), 92.
Inform students about the rising number of antisemitic incidents in the United States and explore the story of one teacher’s response to an antisemitic incident involving high school students in her community.
Use this mini-lesson to introduce students to contemporary examples of Holocaust trivialization and prompt reflection on the question “What are the implications of comparing current events to the Holocaust?”