When Are They Going To Stop Killing Jews?


When I read the news on the internet that some folks were killed in some kind of what sounds like a Jewish oriented hate crime in the greater Kansas City area, I wasted no time.  I immediately consulted my favorite British reporting.  After all, US media has proven their biases and deficits in the reliability department, while the Daily Mail once again “done good” (as they say in Kansas).

I lived in Kansas for many years before I met and married my husband.  I spent those years as a resident psychiatrist, as well as a member of the Conservative synagogue of Wichita, Kansas.  I even taught a couple of classes at the Hebrew School.

I left before I met my husband, but it was for political reasons — the denial of ritual honors to women, and the threat of a major financier to pull funding if I took ritual honors a second time.

Political problems — I had them at synagogues before.  I left synagogues before.  I felt then and I feel now that political problems are part of institutions created by humans, as all sacred institutions are.  So I can only say that I pretty much gave up on synagogues.

I never really gave up on Judaism, though.  I would not, however, identify myself as a radical Jewish Feminist, as I did back then.  I am more likely to tell people I am a “Kabbalist” — a mystic who functions best at a certain distance from the religious community, but who has studied plenty (even things which, as a female, I was never supposed to be able, at the time, to get my hands on).

All of this is simply by way of context.  When I heard some crazed guy had opened fire on two Kansas institutions, I figured my first duty was to tell Jews “Gevalt! Don’t be scared!  They don’t usually shoot Jews in Kansas! Do not be scared of Kansas!”

When I first visited there — or anywhere – – my parents would usually ask me, “Hott Yidden?” (“Do they have Jews?” in Yiddish, or “Judeo-German”).  They had to ask me every single time, every city I went to, never quite believing me when I told them “Jews are everywhere,” which I still believe to be true.  They never really understood “unaffiliated Jews,” although I had become one.  They felt some kind of security knowing I was in places where there were enough people to support Jewish institutions.

My boss — director of the residency program — was an unaffiliated Jew, but rarely if ever spoke about it.

I remember the locals — the overwhelming majority of whom belonged to one or another Christian sect — as being “salt of the earth” kind of folks.  Some did ask if I were Jewish from my surname.  They were usually relieved when I said yes, but I was not terribly observant.  They seemed even more relieved when I said I believed in God and prayed for my patients daily (I still do.). Depending on how much more they needed or wanted to know, they would learn that I had read a good deal of the Old Testament in Hebrew, mostly in earliest grade school, and that I accepted it as an honest effort of God-fearing people to tell the truth as best they could.

By the time I got around to telling someone that, I made sure to tell them my verbal skills and my prescription pad were completely non-sectarian.

I remember one case — and one alone — where this did not seem to be sufficient.  I recommended the patient to a colleague who identified himself as a “Christian therapist,” but who did good, competent therapy materially different from mine only in that he was willing to kneel next to patient and pray to Christ Jesus with them at both the beginning and the end of the session.

Kansas was the place where I had to deal with efforts to convert me to Christianity. I have a good history of convincing people who try to convert me to Christianity that this is a waste of both their time and mine. In other places — in Canada and America and even France — I knew I would get visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.  I had worked out various ways to deal with their tireless energy quoting Holy Writ in English– and Hebrew.

Only in Kansas did I receive several visits from the Christian Medical Society.  I had somehow been silly enough to tell someone when I was teaching a bit at synagogue, and the Christian Medical Society representative asked me what I taught about Christ.  Well the obvious answer is that he is not the Messiah, and that we are waiting for the real One.

In Kansas, and a bit later, in Oklahoma, people simply left me Watchtower and various Christian journals and Biblical tracts.

I have got to add that until just recently, in the space of only three months on the central coast of California, did I ever amass enough Bible tracts and pamphlets to fill an entire desk drawer enough so that it was hard to close.

To me it is painfully obvious that Christianity and Judaism are more alike than different — just different ways to go from the Old Testament.

I really do want to scream, with arms akimbo, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Of course, we are still in the initial news reporting stage.  It sure sounds like a hate crime.  I mean, going about asking people if they are Jewish before taking aim.

Three people dead, two of them well known and documented gentiles (non-Jews), according to the reports that give the most details. This act actually happened at a senior home and a community center that enjoy friendly relationships with non-Jews, who are generally present in some number.

I am of the generation that escaped European anti-Semitism a couple of generations ago.  I was brought up being told that this is a land of plenty, and I am safe here.  My Mother-Of-Blessed-Memory told me when I was a little girl going to Jewish religious school that I should always identify myself as an “American Jew,” putting the “American” first, as it is only because I am in America that I am free to identify myself publicly as “Jewish.”  My Grandmother-Of-Blessed-Memory always said she came here because she wanted safety, and she found it.  She told me and my aunt to take care of America for her.  My aunt was in the U.S. Army and did nursing and I ended up a Captain in the U.S. Army medical Corps.

This latest atrocity in the Heartland is the action of an individual.  He has purported to represent groups.  America still has (so far) freedom of speech.  You can say things but you simply cannot do things like this.  He will be punished — the mechanism exists.  I hope those who lost family members, and those who were traumatized by being told all sorts of scary things while the threat was going on will find comfort in the simple act of the appropriate application of existing laws.

The action will come — First action to deal appropriately with events, then therapy if needed, as I have told to a seemingly endless army of psychological sufferers.

I find my thoughts drifting to a patient whose son was in great physical pain because of things allegedly done to him while he was in prison.  She was resistant to all known antidepressants back then.

I told her to get active in the prison reform movement, and her depression started lifting immediately.

I do have some similar stories, though less dramatic ones, of people who started feeling better when they could stop feeling like victims because relevant perpetrators were punished.

Prayer is powerful for true believers.  People should seek comfort, and comfort should be offered liberally in situations like this that seem to transcend logic.

Me — I tend to do a sort of cognitive therapy on myself most of the time, thinking my way through life.

Since there are so many health and mental health professionals who are Jewish, it is no real surprise that there is a lot of literature about this one.

The reasons and causes run from individuals to groups.  They usually seem to start with some kind of jealousy and fear.  People seem to look into whatever tradition they have been educated in and extrapolate forward.

I mean psychoanalysts talk about how Jews and Christians deal intrapsychically with father-son conflicts.


From this, we move to countries that want to exterminate each other, and to extremists who do some pretty crazy and horrible things.

The best and most global historical description of what has been and is going on came, to my surprise, from what is primarily a political journal, the Jewish Political Studies Review.

Academic study — psychoanalytical in particular — seems largely to have moved its focus from individual to group processes.

Double OY!

It is egregious.  This shooter was no Moslem.  This looks as if it has been an English speaking American who did this.

It is hard, really hard, to pull something powerful from this.

Be thankful for each wonderful day you have with those you love.

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September 8, 2014

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