Why I Wrote This Post

I normally do not write deeply personal experiences in my blog post. However, after the attack on the United States Capital building, my broken heart felt a need to share my thoughts.

I am grateful that I have never been physically harmed by actions of Antisemitism. However, the Antisemitism I have experienced was emotionally painful and left an indelible marks in my heart and brain!

I have been writing and editing this post for 2 days and I have found the process most cathartic. I hope my experiences will help others understand what Antisemitism feels like and look like, and say, “No to Antisemitism! Enough is Enough!”

I Am A Jewess

As a Jewess, I was horrified by the nightmare at the capital on Wednesday and continue to feel horrified. Watching the attack on the capital, reminded me of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, the pogrom against Jews carried out by the SA (Storm Detachment), which was the Nazi Party‘s original paramilitary wing forces, and civilians throughout Nazi Germany on November 9th and 10th in 1938.

It was frightening to see the Proud Boys’ tee shirts that read  “6MWE”, which is code for“6 Million Wasn’t Enough”, the sweatshirts on the Pro-Trump rioter that state “Camp Auschwitz”, and fear, chaos, and damage the thugs created inside and outside our beautiful Capital building.

My Experiences with Antisemitism

I have experienced Antisemitism all my life. I was a red haired, blue eyed, freckle-faced girl. People thought I was Irish because of my appearance and my name. When people asked me if I were Irish, I would reply, “No, I am not Irish, I am Jewish.” Like my mother and grandmother, we did not fit many people’s perception, which they had been taught about a Jewish people, who had dark hair, dark skin, and large noses, who were Christ Killers, and who used baby’s blood to bake matzoh for Passover.

My parents selected a home in River Forest, Illinois that did not have a large population of Jewish people to teach me how to live in a world with people, whose religious beliefs were different than mine. My parents helped to build West Suburban Temple Har Zion, where I was a Bat Mitzvah, married, and named both our sons. They also were instrumental in building Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, in memory of a Jewish family. Most importantly, my parents taught me to be proud and knowledgeable of my Jewish religion and heritage and how to handle Antisemitism by standing up for myself and our Jewish community.

Elementary School

In grammar school, I used to go swimming at the River Forest Tennis Club with my neighbors. One day, I remember asking my mother if we could join the club because we all had so much fun together.

My mother’s answer was a simple one. “Sheila, we cannot join the River Forest Tennis Cub because it is restricted and we are Jewish.”

Restricted was the code word for “no Jews allowed.” Knowing that information, I continued to play and walk to school with my neighbors. However, I decided I would not accept future swimming invitation because I would never feel comfortable swimming at their club, ever again.

Lincoln Junior High School

In 7th grade at Lincoln Junior High School (now Roosevelt Middle School), Walter Gordon, I will never forget his name, asked me to a school dance. However, two days later he told me he could not take me to the dance.

I was surprised and asked, “Why can’t you take me to the dance?”

He replied, “My mother told me you were Jewish.”

I know he was shocked when I replied, “My religion has nothing to do with how I dance. Your mother is not a nice lady!”

Then I walked away. After that incident, Walter always turned around and walked the other way whenever he saw me in the halls of our junior high and high school.

Oak Park River Forest High School

One day in my senior year, I was called to my high school dean’s office. When I opened the door to his office, I was surprised to see my mother seated across from his desk.

I immediately asked my mother, “Is something wrong with Daddy?” I was frightened because my father suffered from heart disease.

“Daddy is fine. Dean Cady just wanted me to be here when he spoke with you.” My mother replied.

Dean Cady asked me to sit down next to my mother. Then he said, “Sheila, I want you to know that you were accepted to Northwestern University. However, you cannot go because they filled their Jewish quota.”

I was disappointed, but not shocked.

Ohio State University

In college, I was able to join Sigma Delta Tau sorority, which was one of the three Jewish sororities on the campus of the Ohio State University. There was an unspoken rule that Jewish students only belonged to Jewish sororities and fraternities.

There were many times when I heard Antisemitic remarks from fellow students, who had no idea I was Jewish. Many came from individuals who lived in small Ohio communities and had never seen a Jewish person. I had to explain to them how inappropriate and offensive their remarks, such as “Jew you down” were.

Teaching 3rd Grade

At the beginning of my first of year teaching 3rd grade at Washington Elementary School in Park Ridge, Illinois, I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Plimpton, the superintendent of school, to request an extra personal day to attend Yom Kippur services with my family. I had used both my personal days to attend Rosh Hashanah services.

I told Dr. Plimpton, “I would be happy to come into school and work during Christmas vacation.”

He replied, “You cannot do that because the school is closed for the holiday.” Then he added, “Why don’t you just call in sick, Mrs. Glazov.”

I quickly replied, “Dr. Plimpton, you are asking me to lie and on the holiest day of my religion.”

He did not reply, and I walked out of his office.

The following week, Yom Kippur day was deducted from my paycheck. Our district did not have a union, so I had no recourse.

The following year, the school district scheduled an all-district teacher in-service programs on Yom Kippur. I represented the 5 other Jewish teachers in my school. We referred to our school as “The Washington Ghetto” because all the Jewish teachers in the district, except one, was teaching at Washington School. Again, I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Plimpton to ask him to change the date so all the Jewish teacher could attend the programs, which would be a tremendous benefit to us and our students. Again, Dr. refused my request, and I did not have any recourse.

I always explained to my 3rd grade student why I would not be at school on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In the 1960’s I was able to teach my students life-long lessons about respecting and appreciating differences. In December, we had a Christmas tree, a menorah, and holiday decorations in our classroom. We shared Christmas and Chanukah cookies and I made potato latkes, in my electric fry pan. In January, we celebrated the Chinese New Year.

It was my last year at Washington School, when I explained to my students that I would not be in class because of the Jewish High Holidays. 50 years later, I still remember one little boy’s, exact words: “But Mrs. Glazov, my mommy said that all Jews have dark hair, dark skin, big noses and horns on their heads.”

I responded, “You see that I have red hair, light skin with freckles , and a small nose. Wait a moment and I will push my belly button to see if my horns come out of my head.”

I pushed on my stomach and said, “You see I do not have horns that protrude from my head. When you go home tell you mother that she is wrong, and she can come to school to see for herself.

My student’s mother never came to school, not even for teacher her parent conferences.

Mammoth Lakes, California

As an adult, I continued to experience Antisemitism. However, there were Antisemitic experiences that effected my husband, our sons, and I when we were living in Mammoth Lakes, California, a town of 2,500 residents in 1980-89, in the Eastern Sierra Mountains.

We had moved to Mammoth for quiet small-town living. Jordan and I were very active in the community. Everyone knew we were the founders of our Eastern Sierra Jewish Community, which held services for the Jewish residents and their families, who lived in Mono and Inyo Counties, and for the second homeowners who came up to Mammoth from Los Angeles.

Jordan and I had been working on a project to develop a hotel and golf course at the Mammoth Airport. We had gone through copious public hearings to explain the project. However, there people in the community who were against the project, even though all the studies that were required, approved of our project. We received hate mail with Antisemitic slurs in our personal and business mailboxes at the Mammoth Post Office. Student harassed our sons with Antisemitic remarks.

While living in Mammoth we observed our Jewish traditions and made sure both of our sons had a Bar Mitzvah. I always told Joshua and Noah to remember the wisdom of the French Rothschild banking family’s matriarch. I taught them that Jewish people became bankers in Europe because they were not allowed to own property or become citizen of the country. However, they could travel to other countries and were able to read and write Yiddish. These skills enabled them to communicate and trade with other Jewish merchants.

When one of Madame Rothschild’s sons was leaving France, to start the banking business in England, she told him, “My son, never forget who you are.”

Her son replied, “Don’t worry, Mother. They will never let me forget who I am.”

You Have To Be Carefully Taught

A perfect example that demonstrates how people develop prejudice against others is the controversial musical South Pacific South Pacific, which was composed by Richard Rodgers and the lyrics were written by Oscar Hammerstein II. Both Jewish men created a very controversial Broadway production about race in 1949. Listen to the word of the song that are sadly true today, as they were in 1949. You Have to Be Carefully Taught

I Am A Proud Jewish Woman

These were only a few examples of the Antisemitism I experienced in my childhood and adult life. I am a daughter of a proud Jewish parents and the mother of a proud Jewish family. As I wrote this blog post I thought about the essay my father wrote in 1938, before the horrors of the Holocaust and Hitler’s systematic “Final Solution” (1933-1945). I included the essay in my blog post:  “I am a Hebrew” written by my father Alexander I. Newman (of blessed memory) – Sheila Glazov.

My father’s words ring true today, as they have for thousands of years.

“Ivre Anoche”—”I am a Hebrew.” We acknowledge with pride such a noble heritage—a heritage carried down thru the ages, thru eons of toil and persecution, and thru centuries of starvation and despair. A heritage that has resisted destruction and survived the diabolic and sinister schemes of kings, emperors, despots, autocrats, and dictators.”

And now a President of the United States of America.

How can we mitigate the misunderstanding and prejudice that exists; the dissemination of falsehoods? How can we belie the disparaging remarks… the criticism of the intolerant, and the discrimination of society?

All of this can be accomplished by a concerted action, with the promotion of better understanding… and the inculcation of the precepts of benevolence, brother love, and harmony.

…can you sit complacently by and say, “It’s not my problem.”?…

But it is our problem! In reference to the Holocaust, people say, “It can never happen in the United States.”  However, the behavior inside and outside the United States Capital building, on Wednesday, proves it can happen again!

Closing Question

How you educate yourself, your family members, friends, and colleagues to stand up to and say “No” to hatred, bigotry, antisemitism, and racial, religious, and/or gender prejudice?

 

 

My family business memoir No Bunk, Just BS (Business Sense) is available on Amazon.com.
10% of royalties from the sale of No Bunk is allocated to JDRF.

 

What Color Is Your Brain?Receive your FREE Chapter, #7 Your Romantic Relationships, from the original What Color Is Your Brain?® book, when you sign up for my Sheila’s Brain Blog section at the bottom of my homepage!

 

 

 

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27 Comments

  1. Karen Cloud Correa on January 12, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    God bless you for sharing this very personal story. I remember some of what you referred to about your time in Mammoth. I had no idea that the boys lives were affected. I will never understand why people spread hate and then teach their children to do the same. My understanding of being Jewish and practicing the Jewish faith is more than just a religion, it is a way of life. Tradition, education, family, community, kindness, responsibility and respect. Those are the things I think of when I think of “Jewish”.
    I had a good friend in high school who was crowned prom queen. Her date backed out on the date a few days before prom because his parents found out she was Jewish and wouldn’t let him take her. She went alone, accepted her crown and held her head up high. I never forgot it. Sound familier?

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 4:22 pm

      Dear Karen, Thank you for your blessing and kind words about my personal story. Yes, Noah received that most of the antisemitism. Karen, you could never understand because you have such a kind and loving heart. Yes, being Jewish is way of life, our culture, religion, traditions, food, even the physical ailments, which mostly are digestive issues. Living in ghettos, not eating the best food, and only marrying Jewish people exacerbated those issues that are passed on genetically. I loved the story of your friend who was the Prom Queen. What a courageous and intelligent young woman. Karen, please send me a FB message with your phone # I would love to chat with you. I hope you and your beautiful family in Wisconsin and June Lake are well and safe. With gratitude, healthy hugs, and sweet Mammoth memories, Sheila

  2. Anne Geer on January 12, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    I love you

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Annie, I love you more than tongue can tell! XOXO

  3. Nadine Resnick Robin on January 12, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    Sheila,

    What a wonderful piece – I didn’t have the exact experiences you had and I’m fortunate for that.
    You and I went to Mac-Do together and I remember you well.
    Keep writing – you have much to tell. Stay safe

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Nadine, how lovely to hear from you. Of course I remember you! Thank you for remembering me well. Was I your Chief or Scribe? I am glad you were spared the experiences I had. However, I am sure the mob scene at our Capital was also upsetting to you. I appreciated your kind words about my writing. I hope you and your family are well and safe! With sweet Mac-Do memories, Sheila

  4. Susan Cohen on January 12, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    This was so wonderfully written Sheila, thank you. Sadly, most of us have experienced antisemitism during our lives. My response when I encounter this type ignorance is always a simple “I beg your pardon?” followed by silence. I let the offender stumble around for a few moments, and then as calmly as possible, explain and hopefully, educate them as to their faux pas. Unfortunately, like Walter, they have avoided me in the future. Sigh.

    I hope you and your family are healthy. I miss the knitting group and hope to find one here in Kansas when we can all get back to living life a little more normally.

    Susan Cohen

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      Susan, so lovely to hear from you!! I hope you are enjoying you new home and being near your daughter and her family. Thank you for your kind words about my post. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Yes, dealing with people like Walter is always challenging. I jokingly you to say that I hoped he fell in love and married a Jewish woman. I also miss our knitting/crochet group. We have not been meeting because of the COVID. I hope you are able to find another group, like ours. Our family is well and safe. I hope your family is also well and safe. With gratitude and Healthy Hugs, Sheila

  5. Marylou P. Nunamaker on January 12, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    Sheila, you are an amazing and wonderful woman! To have to live through such abuse is painful to read. Yet you continue to be the loving, gentle, beautiful, and creative woman that you are, and that I know. Love and strength dear Sheila, and every blessing to you, your friend Marylou ❤️❤️

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 4:03 pm

      Dearest Marylou, I am most appreciative of your kind words and blessings. I must give my parents and Jordan credit for always being so loving, strong, and encouraging to face difficult challenges. Sending you heartfelt wishes and prayers that you, Bob and your Beautiful family remain Safe and Healthy. Love and Healthy Hugs, Sheila

  6. Carol Bates on January 12, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Sheila – Thank you for this – I will share it. I am so shaken by the events of this week. I worry about my family’s safety always, never more than now.
    I am praying for the country , the president elect and Vice President elect and all those in peril from the evil supporters of trump.
    And I pray for you, Jordan and your family to be safe.

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 4:00 pm

      Dear Carol, You are welcome for my post and thank you for sharing it. Yes it is an extremely worrisome time. Yes, I am also praying that our country, Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris and all our elected officials remain safe and courageous! As you, I pray that loved ones, which includes you, Carol, remain healthy and safe! With Love and Healthy Hugs, Sheila

  7. Nancy Backe on January 12, 2021 at 9:01 pm

    You are one great lady in my book. I have always admired you from the day that I met you. I applaud your brilliance for sharing your story. I grew up in the same
    time frame as you did but I guess my family were different. I don’t think I met many Jewish people. I went to Catholic school and I don’t remember hearing about them. I knew that Jesus was a Jew. I remember Mr. Mittag that use to come to the house. The family would buy things from him. I think he sold things like towels and household items. I don’t remember anyone telling me that he was Jewish. I remember one time I needed a new coat and Mr. Mittag offered to take me to a store on 12th St. to look for a one. I remember being on the bus with him but I don’t recall buying a coat. He was a very nice man and everyone in the family knew and liked him. I think it says a lot that the family said go ahead with Mr. Mittag. Maybe you will find a coat. I worked with Jewish people and for Jewish people and I never knew anything other than they were always kind and generous to me. I remember in my youth seeing a horrible movie about the Nazi’s and how they
    tortured people. Gave me nightmares for eons. I still remember it. I went with some older cousins and I guess in those days there were no ratings. One thing I will never forget as long as I live is a friend (Peg) called me when Trump was running for office and she said you have to watch this. Peg is one of a very special group of people. I love her and she is brilliant. She was in a religious order of nuns and came out and married a Jewish man who I also love. She wanted me to watch this program on TV and it was a bunch of Nazi’s promoting Donald Trump. I watched it. It was taking place at some hotel right before he was elected. It was very upsetting as I thought there were no Nazi’s left in the world. Then came Charlottesville and when Donald Trump refused to deny them it made me sick. I did not vote for him and never would but Charlottesville changed all for me because I knew then for sure who he really was. I always think of you with a smile for you have sunshine in your heart. Thank you again for sharing your story.

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 3:55 pm

      Dear Nancy, thank you for you kind words and compliments. I loved reading about Mr. Mittag. I am glad you had such positive experiences with Jewish people. It is amazing with all the horrific pictures and stories about the Holocaust that some people still believe that it never happened or it should happen again, as the Proud Boy’s shirts read. Wow, your friend Peg sounds like a remarkable person to leave the church and marry a Jewish man. That is amazing! I also did not vote for the man who is living out his last days in the White House. The man is the antithesis of what a President of the United States should be. I also think of you and smile. I always enjoyed our conversations in your photo store. I am looking forward to the COVID being over and we can see each other! Thank you for sharing your stories! With Healthy Hugs to you and Larry, Sheila

  8. Linda Steer on January 12, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    Beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing.

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 3:41 pm

      Dear Linda, Thank you for your kind words. When I was writing my post I was thinking about you, Marsha, and George growing up in OK. I am sure that was challenging at times. We Newmans are Proud People! XOXO Sheila

  9. Michelle (your cousin :-) on January 12, 2021 at 11:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. Sending you much love!

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 3:39 pm

      Dearest Michelle. You are most welcome for my stories. You are welcome to share them with your Gavin and Dorothy, as a teachable opportunity. Sending you much love and healthy hugs, Sheila

  10. Brad Jacobsen on January 12, 2021 at 11:40 pm

    Sheila, you are inspiring, your words ring true. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 3:38 pm

      Dear Brad, thank you for your kind words about sharing my Blue Heart. Hope you are staying well and safe!

  11. John Bond on January 13, 2021 at 7:00 am

    Sheila. Thanks for sharing such your personal experiences. It is a challenging time to say the least. I always think about the quote, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Be well my friend.

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 3:36 pm

      JB, you are most welcome for my post. Yes, we are living a very challenging time, with many “teachable moments” for all of us. I love you quote. Thanks! Be well and safe, my dear friend.

  12. Marsha Greiner on January 13, 2021 at 11:01 am

    Your descriptions are eloquent.
    Little of what you have written can not be said about growing up Jewishly in Oklahoma.
    I often comfort myself by noting that being in the minority requires one to make a conscious effort to maintain one’s identity by the manner in which one lives.
    Thank you for your words.

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 3:35 pm

      Dear Cousin Marsha. I did think about you, Linda, and George when I was writing my post. I am sure you all had your challenges growing up as Jewish children in OK. I admire the way you learned to comfort yourself in the manner in which you have lived you life as a Jewish woman. The Newmans clan is a proud family! You are most welcome for my words. Thank you for yours! Love, Sheila

  13. Sheila A. Donovan on January 14, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    I was born in 1945, just after the end of WWII. As a child, I jump-roped to a song that I had no idea what the words meant. “Down in France, where the women do their dance, and the dance they do is enough to kill a Jew, and the Jew they kill is enough to take a pill, and the pill they take is enough to fry a snake, and the snake they fry is enough to tell a lie, and the lie they tell is enough to go to …..HALLELUIAH! We couldn’t say the word “Hell” but we could sing about killing Jews. I didn’t know what a Jew was. I just knew you kill Jews. I thought it was some kind of creature. There was a song that had lyrics “If I knew’d you were coming, I’da baked a cake, baked a cake, baked a cake. How’dja do, how’dja do, how’dja do?” We sang a parody “If I knew’d you were coming I’da baked a kike, baked a kike, baked a kike. Again, we kids had NO idea what we were singing. I didn’t know what a “kike” was, but I knew you “baked” it. I thought it was some kind of fish, it sounded similar to pike. I didn’t learn what “Jew” or “Kike” meant until I was an adult. I broke my heart I when I realized what those songs and chants meant. I apologize to you for singing those “innocent” songs, so long ago.

    • sheila on January 14, 2021 at 3:31 pm

      Dear Sheila, we were born the same year. I was born in February before WWII ended. Thank you for sharing the chant and song. I am glad I did not hear them as a child. when I was outside playing with my friends. I appreciate and respect your courage and integrity to write this comment. I am sure it did break your kind heart to realize what you had been “carefully taught,” as a child. Thank you for your heartfelt apology. I accept your sincerity. Stay well and safe. With gratitude, Sheila

  14. MICHAEL R. EVANS on January 15, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    Great article!

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