xvi Introduction “pickup line” as abhorrent as, “How do you get a Jewish girl’s number? Check the inside of her arm.” How do you fill the silence that comes when the black mark of a swastika leaves the pages of history books and finds its way onto a locker or a notebook or the home of adolescents just trying to find their place in the world? I’ve made choices in each of these instances. They may not always have been the right ones or the ones that each of the educators I’ll profile in this book would make. And ultimately, I think that’s OK. To educate the Jew- ish teens of Generation Z is to operate in largely uncharted territory. It’s to join them in a new world—one where social media is the barometer for legitimacy and social distancing is understood by nomenclature. It’s a place where identities are complex and overlapping and everyone is responsible for making the world a better place—whatever that means. Generation Zers as a whole are living in the most diverse iteration of the United States that there has ever been. They’re also living in one of the most polarized times in the collective memory of the American people. Jewish Generation Zers in particular are entering emerging adulthood against this backdrop, with the added baggage of coming to terms with a resurgence in antisemitism that has left the American Jewish community searching for new answers to ancient questions. Rabbi David Wolpe wrote a blog post posing the query, Why do some people hate Jews? In his answer to this perennial question, he gave voice to the irrational, constantly evolving reality of antisemitism: Jews have been hated when they were poor and when they were rich when they were communists and when they were capitalists when they were stateless and when they had a state when they were reli- gious and when they were secular when they ‘invaded and took jobs’ and when they were rootless and barred from the marketplace when they were phenomenal achievers in the world and when they stayed in the study hall and did nothing but learn even when they were present and (often after their expulsions and murders) when they no longer lived in the country that still bore hatred for them. In other words, Jews have been hated because they remained Jews. Because they refused, in the face of the most furious persecutions, to cease being who they were. Because they reflect back on the world the reality of its own brutality.17 Antisemitism is not rational. It isn’t founded in a particular ideology, worldview, or school of thought. It’s an ever-changing, constantly
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