Yesterday, nine days after Trump was inaugurated, I went to a protest for the first time.
I'd never been a protest for/against anything before, and I wasn't quite comfortable with the idea of going to this one (I hate driving downtown, and social interaction is torture) but I felt like I had to do something. It was a protest in support of immigration and in solidarity with Muslim Americans, following Trump's executive order barring immigration from Syria and other Muslim-majority countries. Like most Americans, I wasn't expecting Trump to be a great president, but that was a new low even by his standards. What happened to the Jewish refugees of the St. Louis is one of the shameful, saddest stories of the entire Holocaust to me. They asked America for help, and America slammed its doors right in their faces.
I want Muslim-Americans to know that America is their home. I want them to know that there are people who want them here. I want them to know that we Jews remember what this feels like. So, I went when I saw a Facebook post about it from Rabbi B (who likely would've attended too, but he's in Washington DC right now). I purposely wore my American flag t-shirt, my Star of David necklace, and my dad's dogtag, to represent things that are important to me. (For several years after Dad died, until 2010-11, I wore his dogtag almost 24/7, but in recent years, I've worn it more sparingly.) I even stopped by my old stomping grounds to make a sign out of poster board; like a good Jewish girl, I went with Leviticus 19:34, "The foreigner among you must be treated as your own, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."
Some things aren't coincidences. There I was, feeling all liberal and tolerant, printing out my sign in the copy/print department, when the guy working there saw the Torah verse and mentioned that he was a "Messianic Jew."
I bit my tongue and said nothing, and he didn't say anything else, but it gave me pause. I still absolutely mean everything I said about Muslim-Americans (or Middle Eastern Americans of any faith) and I'm very glad I went to the protest, but I can't believe it was a coincidence that on my way to show support for people of that religion, I encountered someone from the one religion that makes me really uncomfortable. I've always seen "Messianic Jews" (or "Jews for Jesus") as Hamans, people who seek to destroy Judaism/make a mockery of our faith. I like to think that I would never manifest this belief in unkind action, but I do think God was using this guy to hold up a mirror, to teach me that I still have a ways to go, too.
A few observances about the actual rally: There was a big crowd (people of all ages and colors), several "pussy hats" leftover from last week's womens rallies, and a lot of memorable signs. I saw Love Trumps Hate, a big photo of Trump with a Hitler mustache drawn over his face, Laundry is the only thing that should be sorted by color, the words on the State of Liberty, Make white nationalists afraid again, and First they came for the Muslims and we said, Fuck no. I think Trump is creating an America with its eyes wide open.
on your journey, i will bless you...
...and you will be a blessing
- Somewhere beyond the barricade is a world Rebecca longs to see.