I just finished rereading your piece titled “A Tale of Two Jerusalems” for the third time and am able to say confidently that I gained nothing more than a pit in my stomach from your article.
After some quick research of my own I have learned that you have a long history in the journalism world, yet I also believe the antithesis of this is reflected in your piece. As a Jew who has the life experience that you do, I unfortunately have to assume that you, too, have found yourself a victim of anti-Semitism.
I am a rising senior at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; had you asked me before attending if I would encounter acts of anti-Semitism I would have told you with confidence that I truly didn’t expect to see anything of the sort. I regret to say that I was wrong and have personally both encountered and responded to anti-Semitic acts more times in my three short years than I would have hoped for in a lifetime.
However, this comes as no criticism to my university, my peers or my educators. This is because I have seen firsthand how to meet hatred face to face and work through it so everyone can coexist peacefully and to the mutual benefit of all. Instead, I find myself reading your piece where, based on a few incredibly basic and vague “statistics,” you draw immense conclusions about massive and influential populations.
If you were looking to inform people in one of your journalistic pieces about the fact that the cost of living in Newton is higher than Swampscott then good on you – but that’s about all I got – aside from that pit, that is. To suggest that those who spend more on their living costs and possibly have a higher salary are scared and afraid of confronting a very real problem in our world while those who live more modestly and don’t ‘flaunt their wealth’ such as those from Newton are far more proactive and what you suggest to be “better” Jews.
What you are doing is exactly what should not be happening. We can take your stance and adopt the “well, it’s our turn now” pathos, while at the same time turning Jews against Jews by making money and geographic location factors, or as a bigger community we can come together and support one another, regardless of any factor whatsoever.
It goes without saying that “Two Jerusalems” fighting for the same cause without communication would only end in disaster. The message should not be to segregate ourselves further from one another but to come together and help ourselves, each other and the world around us all at the same time.
I grew up in Chestnut Hill, a neighborhood of Newton, for the first 18 years of my life before my mother moved to Marblehead where I now live when classes are not in session. I am also a member of a large Jewish fraternity on campus, where our membership is very diverse, literally spanning from coast to coast of the United States. The one single quality that I have seen between those who do and do not respond to acts of anti-Semitism and hatred is so very simple: the desire to act. I have friends from the poorest parts of Rhode Island, to the richest parts of Long Island – all the way to the plains of the Midwest. The individual is the deciding factor; not wealth, not geographic location, not political views.
Turning friend against friend is no way to accomplish anything. We need not make up differences between one another that do not even exist. Only together can we truly face the task at hand.
Harrison J. Ross, Amherst