Swampscott No Better than Newton

Published May 20, 2016, issue of May 19, 2016.

I am writing in response to your cover story, “A Tale of Two Jerusalems.” As a recent transplant from the Newton area to Marblehead, I was actually horrified to read the inflammatory and divisive commentary regarding the differing reaction of two communities, Newton versus Swampscott when faced with acts of anti-Semitism. Given the title of the article, it appears that these two towns, (or, more precisely, town and city) are the metric by which all Jewish life in Massachusetts is measured. I am confident that many other communities – Sharon, Framingham and Worcester to name just a few – might beg to differ; however, that’s neither here nor there in the context of this shameful article.

The author had a choice: note and discuss the differences and discuss the pros and cons, or, write with disdain and disgust about “everything Newton.” It is beyond me why the median price of homes, much less the judgment with regard to the degree of “showiness” (with a very clear opinion on which is superior) were a necessary part of this soap boxing… and trust me, I’ve tried to understand.

At the core of anti-Semitism, or any kind of discrimination, is a determination of superiority and a lack of acceptance of people or practices different from one’s own. Am I the only one who sees the disgraceful irony here? For the Jewish Journal to publish a front and center article delineating all of the reasons that Swampscott is better than Newton is contemptible. In fact, I would go so far as to say that choosing to do so is antithetical to everything I’ve ever learned as a Jewish person.

I am not here to defend or support either community’s handling of hate. I am, however, wondering why the author saw fit to create a division among a group of people who are stronger as a unit than in disparate camps. According to Mr. Resnek, Newton was a near bloodbath and Swampscott was as kumbaya as a campfire at one of the many Jewish camps where, I shudder to mention, children from Newton and Swampscott co-mingle.

If someone wants to explain to me the purpose in pitting two Jewish communities, both of whom I have found to be nothing but welcoming, against one another, I am all ears. 

Julie K. Levinson, Marblehead

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