Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When Hate Hits Home

Returning home from a long day of work and carpooling, our 15-year-old asked me if I had heard what happened in town overnight. I hadn't. "Someone smashed the windows of Jewish-owned businesses," he told me. "It's all over the news and facebook."

My son well understood the echoes of this act came from Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, a series of attacks against Jewish synagogues, businesses and homes in Nazi Germany and Austria in November of 1939.

Anger flashed through me. Why would anyone do such a thing? Did they not consider - or care - how this would make the owners feel? This vandalism might have evoked a sense of terror or brought back traumatic memories.

When I went to pick up our 12-year-old from his middle school basketball practice, we drove past one of our town's two Judaica stores. When I saw the shattered windows I felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to my heart. How dare they try to destroy the peace of my hometown. How dare they seek to hurt men and women carrying the faith of the ancient people who first heard the word of God?

On the next block, the other Judaica store was replacing its front windows.  My son asked "Did they hit the computer store?" A good friend, who is Jewish, owns that one. No, the vandals only hit the stores that focus on the Jewish community - the Judaica shops and the kosher restaurants.

Police have arrested a 52-year-old man from a neighboring town and have said he is undergoing psychiatric evaluation. While intellectually I understand this might have been the work of an emotionally disturbed man, right now I feel sad.

Seventeen years ago, my husband and I chose to live in this town because of its mind-boggling diversity of race and religion. While we follow our own faith and traditions, we wanted our children to grow up accustomed to interacting with all sorts of people. We think this makes life more interesting and that it will help them to adapt to the complexities of our heterogeneous country.

I know Christ asks me to pray for my enemies. Right now, I can't pray for the perpetrators. Instead, I am praying that anyone who felt scared or hurt by those broken windows will gain a sense of peace. And I am praying God will find other people, more merciful than I feel right now, to pray for the poor soul who committed these evil deeds.


  1. Thanks, Allison. No matter who did this, it is still upsetting and brings back painful memories for the community.

  2. In the 33 years I lived on the border of Edison and Highland Park I have never seen anything like this. It makes me sad that there is so little tolerance of others.

  3. Thank goodness there are parents like you who teach respect and tolerance. If only there were more.


  4. Another thought. There is a wonderful children's book by my favorite children's author called "Chicken Sunday" that addresses this issue.