Facing the Music by Showing Up

Facing the Music by Showing Up

Like many Jewish women, I had to think and rethink whether or not I would participate in this year’s Women’s March. Since the March began, my dear friend, Debbie, and I have gone to Santa Fe to participate. We love the spiritual dedication to the native Tewa people and their land, as well as the strong Native American and Hispanic participation in such beautiful surroundings.

Some of you may not know about this, but the Women’s March organization has been fraught with accusations of anti-Semitism. I will not go into the details here, but I will refer you to an article in The Nation by Nylah Burton, “A Vital, Vulnerable Conversation with the Leaders of the Women’s March.” Nylah Burton is an African-American Jewish woman, and so the article is, of course, written from her point of view. However, part of the theme of this last march was about “showing up” as an active woman, as an active citizen. I do believe that this is our responsibility. I do not feel that because they don’t verbalize “Jewish women” that I am not included or that I don’t belong.

The choice to take part

Speakers are shown at the 2019 Women’s March in Santa Fe (PHOTO BY DEBBIE MICHELSON)

As a young woman, I marched for civil rights. I knew there were African-American marchers who did not feel I belonged with them. Some of them were outspoken on this issue. There were others who embraced me for showing up. This is my country, for better or for worse. The organization of our government can need a lot of repair, but I have determined not to abandon it. Do not think for a moment that I have not considered this. The same is true for the Women’s March. I think it makes more sense to be a part of the repair than to abandon the ship, unless, of course, my life is threatened.

Currently, I am reading Madeleine Albright’s book, Fascism: A Warning. This is a book I would recommend for anyone interested in how fascism has been cultivated in the past and how easy it is to lose our freedoms, little by little, one by one. She stresses the importance of showing up; that it is our responsibility in a free society to participate. She doesn’t throw it at us, but she reminds us what it takes to maintain a free society.

‘We are in trouble now’

Turkey is one of my favorite countries, as Istanbul is my favorite city. I do not feel comfortable to travel there now since the alleged coup and since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has imprisoned anyone who might not agree with him. Turkey was never a democracy, but there were many democratic institutions and ideas there. Erdoğan deceived many people when he first came into power. He did not fool a Turkish friend of mine who told me when he was first elected, “We are in trouble now. He is not who people might think he is.” This is exactly how I felt with the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

We are in strange times for this country. We all know this, whoever or whatever we support, however we might feel. Americans have never believed, to my knowledge, in separating parents from their children without due cause, and only for the safety and the welfare of the children. There are very few of us who are not the children of immigrants or refugees. Perhaps I am naïve or foolish, perhaps my expectations of humanity are too elevated, but I wish we could all be one world, one people of humanity. I wish we could all show up for one another.

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