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Good for the Jews?

Susan Estrich on

Years ago, Frank Rich, the legendary New York Times columnist, wrote a piece -- channeling his grandmother -- on the first question her generation used to ask when big news broke: Is it good for the Jews? Or (more often) is it bad for the Jews?

You could hardly blame them. Living through the Holocaust makes the question painfully relevant.

But a habit is a habit.

I will never forget my mother's first words when John Kennedy was shot: "Thank God it wasn't a Jew." And young as I was, I understood. After all, I had already been told in kindergarten that I couldn't play Mary in the school play (even though I had the longest hair, the usual qualification) because I was Jewish. I wasn't old enough -- or brave enough -- to point out that so was Mary.

As I got older, I adopted my own refrains. Was it good for the Democrats? Good for women?

There was a time -- albeit a very brief one -- when I even wondered if my children would ever appreciate the fear and uncertainty my mother lived with and I grew up with.

 

I need not have worried.

No one stood on the morning of 9/11 and wondered if Canadian separatists had taken over the skies.

That year, the High holidays has almost as many security guards as Jews.

Hate crimes are on the rise.

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