News and Politics

The Jew in the Street: A New ZEEK Column About Standing Up for Justice

Fathers, mothers, children, raising barricades,
Workers’ battalions taking to the streets.
Father left home early, to the factory gone,
Won’t be coming home to us any time too soon.
The kids know well the reason why father won’t return,
He’s taken to the streets today and brought along his gun.
Mother too is in the street, off to sell some apples,
Leaving orphaned in the kitchen all the pots and dishes.
Don’t expect to eat, says Khanele to the boys,
Because Mother has gone to help Father…
— “Barikadn,” Yiddish song, written by Shmerke Kaczerginski, 1926

At this moment of national confrontation, as we prepare our Thanksgiving feasts, we ask ourselves: who do we relate to? Not whose side do we take, for there is humanity, divinity, in all people — even in the evil Laban. No, the question is a deep question of identity, of Jewish identity.

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