Rosenberg is a surname of German descent. It means “Mountain of Roses.”
When read on paper, some people see “Jew.”
Throughout my life, people have looked at my name and made assumptions about my family’s beliefs. They’ve said we don’t believe in God. We’re greedy. We don’t eat certain foods. Some people have even actively tried to leave me out of activities.
Even when they don’t say these things out loud, I wonder in my head if they’re gauging at my unique surname in disgust.
I wonder if I’ll have to change my name to work in my desired field like my great uncle did.
I was baptised in a Congregational Church, so I will never know the hate, violence or humiliation that people who follow the Jewish religion endure when their identity is threatened, but I carry the burden of knowing that every Rosenberg before me has.
I grew up listening to the stories of my father, whose face I see every time I look in the mirror. Some of his teachers picked on him for being Jewish, some bullies threw pennies at him and called him “jew bag” and “jewbegger.” He said they made him always feel like an outsider – not part of their “club.”
When you are anti-Semitic, you are attacking my family.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial website, 13,523 Rosenbergs were victims in the Holocaust. My grandfather, Stanley, was an officer in the U.S. Navy during WWII, but if his grandparents had never immigrated to America, he would have been the 13,524th.
That is a thought I have every time I learn more about the Holocaust.
An estimated six million Jews were murdered. Words cannot describe how people were ruthlessly ripped from their home, tortured, and killed.
When you minimize anti-Semitism, you minimize genocide and you comply with hate.
This past week, a football coach in Duxbury, Massachusetts was fired for allowing his players to use anti-Semitic slurs as audibles on the field. The cancellation of their season is up in the air.
The Duxbury football team must face stronger consequences than the removal of their coach. The boys yelling the slurs were aware of the painful history behind them and the offense they were committing by saying them.
By putting their season before justice, Duxbury allows this behavior to be justified.
The situation will not ruin the boys’ opportunity to play football, go to college, or have a family in the future. Those who have and will suffer from descrimination will pay the price instead.
More horrifying, on Jan. 6, we saw Swastikas on flags rippling throughout the Capitol building.
And according to The Washington Post, in 2018, there were 1,879 reported hate crimes against Jewish people in the United States, and in 2019, there were 2,107.
Whether it is in a small town, or on the national stage, anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated or justified.
The pioneers of America fled Europe to escape religious persecution. America has since preached freedom of religion and it is enshrined in our Bill of Rights.
So why has it become an American value to persecute Jews?
History has shown that all too often, freedom of religion only protects Christians.
How many more Jews will be hurt before freedom of religion protects everyone?
There is a synagogue down the road from where my father used to live. Friends of mine are members of the Temple and I have longingly inquired about their celebrations and practices, feeling I have failed to indulge in my beautiful heritage. I couldn’t be more curious to reconnect with the traditions my grandparents and great grandparents valued dearly.
My name is Emily Rosenberg and I am proud of my ancestry.
Anti-Semitism does not lessen my pride, which is why I can no longer be complacent about this injustice.