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"I Too Am Jewish"
A concerned reader on ADL's "Anti-Semitism is Anti-Me" Campaign

Editors Note: In this letter to the Wall Street Journal, a concerned reader explains how he was personally touched by the ADL's "Anti-Semitism is Anti-Me" Campaign, which was derided by columnist in the WSJ. The unpublished letter was sent to ADL by the author, who agreed to share his story so that others could learn about his family's unique perspective.

Letters to the Editor
The Wall Street Journal

Subject: Response to “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish?" (Houses of Worship / By Julia Gorin)  

August 6, 2004  

To the Editor:

I enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal for its fair and comprehensive reports. However, I was personally shocked, offended, and ashamed by the bigotry promoted in Julia Gorin’s House of Worship editorial of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) “Anti-Semitism is Anti-Me” campaign on July 16, 2004 entitled: “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish?”

As an Asian by birth and a Jew by Choice I was shocked at Ms. Gorin’s assertion that the ADL’s meaning is to “be careful being anti-Semitic; you might accidentally offend an Asian-American if he’s adopted by Jews.” Since I don’t “look” Jewish, I have often overheard anti-Semitic remarks said in confidence by non-Jews towards others, and I have given my rebuke amidst stares of disbelief: “You’re Jewish, you’re kidding?” Needless to say, this often has a sobering effect on the perpetrators of bigotry.

As a husband, I am offended for my wife who is Caucasian and is often asked about the origins of her own daughter. She faces curious stares and the occasional inquisition of: “Is she yours?” “Where was she born?” and “Was she adopted?”

As the father of a four-year old daughter, I am ashamed of what the bigoted world Ms. Gorin describes portends for my daughter. My daughter is singular amongst her seven Gentile cousins to be raised in a Jewish household. How will her unique genetic-religious situation affect her as she grows up? Will her Hebrew school peers ask her whether she’s adopted? Will she feel less genuinely Jewish? Will Jews see her as less Jewish? Will she grow to resent her parent’s choice to raise her as a Jew? Or will she perhaps find solace and comfort in an Asian face on a telephone kiosk that admonishes: “Anti-Semitism is anti-me?”

Forty-one years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream that his “children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…and that we will be able to speed up that day when all G-d’s children – black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants – will be able to join hands and to sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last; thank G-d Almighty, we are free at last.” I too hold such a dreams for my daughter. That she will grow into a world where she will not be judged by her race or religion, but accorded the respect and dignity that is her due as a human being, that she will respect the differences in others, and that, G-d willing, she will pass these characteristics on to her children, and her children’s children.

In an ever-shrinking world where peoples and cultures move freely and are continuously assimilated to create new hybrid cultures, I beg to differ with Ms. Gorin’s assertion that “Anti-Semitism isn’t anti-everybody, it’s just anti-Jewish.” My family and I are living proof of this, and no matter how you rationalize it, Anti-Semitism is anti-human – and that in the final analysis is anti-everybody.


Kent Hikida
New York, NY

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