black and white closeup of a yelling face
(Photo/Flickr-Andrew Kimmel CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

We are walking on eggshells — with each other

This piece first appeared as the intro to our weekly email newsletter, “Your Sunday J.” Sign up to get more of David’s brief columns and his breakdown of the week’s news at jweekly.com/newsletter.

Everyone in the Jewish community is either yelling at each other or walking on eggshells.

Or it feels that way to me, at least.

Every Jew I interact with, in person and on the internet, seems like a powder keg ready to go off — often in the direction of the nearest Jew they don’t agree with. I hear about Jewish families, Jewish workplaces, Jewish email lists, Jewish friendships, Jewish summer camps and more where Jews are picking useless fights with each other about Israel and Gaza and the dreaded C-word — “cease-fire.”

We are running out of patience for each other’s feelings when they don’t quite match our own.

We are fresh out of benefit-of-the-doubt.

And I don’t mean the proverbial “we”; I include myself.

I am yelling. I am walking on eggshells. I have no patience.

Aside from my job here at J., I interact with Jews in the following ways:

Seeing my yarmulke, they approach me on the street or in a restaurant or a store. They’re looking for a little connection at a stressful time. Sometimes I’m receptive. Sometimes… I’m not. Occasionally they like to share their bigoted ideas about Palestinians, and I know it’s important to push back, but I’m not trying to start fights in public.

I go to shul. Or I used to, anyway. I haven’t been inside one since November. Because I don’t want to hear about Israel. From rabbis, or from a very special guest from the ADL or the JCRC, or from people chatting over Kiddush. Going to shul, for me, has to be different from going to work. It can’t be all Israel and all antisemitism all the time. (Seriously, y’all gotta leave me alone about J. at kiddush. It’s Shabbos, OK?)

I run two Jewish Facebook groups. On their better days, one is for Jewish Trekkies and the other is for Jewish liturgical music nerds. But lately, fairly innocuous posts that mention Israel have led to everything from charges of fascism to charges of genocide to, in one case earlier this week, a veiled death threat.

We are at a fever pitch.

We have to take it easier on each other. Because right now it really feels like we’re going to tear ourselves apart before the antisemites get a chance to.

This piece first appeared as the intro to our weekly email newsletter, “Your Sunday J.” Sign up to get more of David’s brief columns and his breakdown of the week’s news at jweekly.com/newsletter.

David A.M. Wilensky
David A.M. Wilensky

David A.M. Wilensky is director of news product at J. He previously served as assistant editor and digital editor. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @davidamwilensky