Anti-Semitism is on the rise and family dinner conversations have turned into brainstorming sessions about where we should flee if things get worse. Israel? Spain? A remote Caribbean Island?
We wonder if we’re being dramatic or is it just plain stupid to ignore what’s happening. We consider applying for a second passport, getting dual citizenship. But keeping in mind all the places around the globe we’ve been persecuted throughout history, where in the world would Jews be safe?
And then January came…our capitol was attacked by a mob of domestic terrorists. They wore sweatshirts printed with the words, Camp Auschwitz, and tee-shirts that said, 6MWE, a Neo-Nazi term for “6 million wasn’t enough,” referring to the number of Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
Up until last summer, I’d never experienced anti-Semitism. I grew up in New Orleans, during a time of relative peace in the world. I went to Sunday school and synagogue and felt a strong Jewish identity. Other than the fact that my mother wouldn’t allow us to get a Christmas tree, I didn’t attribute whatever differences there might’ve been between me and my classmates to religion, so when I was asked at 18 if I thought the Holocaust could ever happen again, I truly believed that was the most ignorant, if not paranoid, question I’d ever heard. 
But more recently, I came face-to-face with bigotry on a crowded train heading from New York City to New Jersey.
An older couple stood in the aisle next to me and I offered them my seat. They thanked me but declined. As we traveled south, commuters got off the train and the seat next to mine opened up. The man scooted in next to me and his wife sat behind us. I turned to ask the woman if she’d like to switch places so she could sit next to her husband, and again, she declined my offer. After a few minutes, the man started talking to me, and as we chatted, I revealed that I was a writer coming from a workshop, that I’d been married for over thirty years, and that I had grandchildren. He’d also been married for decades, had grandchildren, and whipped out his phone to share pictures. We seemed to have some things in common.  
I asked him a question about my train stop, as I’d never been on that route before.
“Isn’t that where all those Jews live?” he said.
Before I could respond, he was mouthing off one Anti-Semitic trope after another. I will not share those details as they are upsetting and false, and recounting them feels unnecessary. Throughout my life, I’ve been told I don’t look Jewish and so maybe he thought he could say whatever he wanted. But I was stunned and my expression gave me away.  
“Are you Jewish?” he asked.  
“I am,” I said.  
I hoped he’d be embarrassed. Or that he’d back down. But he wasn’t and he didn’t.  
My first reaction was to get up and take a different seat but something made me stay. His bias had awakened my Jewish spirit, and even though I knew this 70-year-old man would probably never change, I wanted to try. Maybe if he saw I was nice, hard-working, a writer, a mother, a volunteer—he’d reconsider his limited view. 
I know, I know, I’m an idealist, and forever trusting that love is the answer. I’ve been called both Pollyanna and Tinkerbell.  
Even though the man seemed unaware of his microaggressions, I like to believe that in the time we spent together on that train, I made a small dent and altered his thinking, even just a smidgeon.  
When I started writing fiction two decades ago, I didn’t worry about showing Jewish characters in a bad light. Everyone has a shadow side and when it comes to writing, the dark angle is often what’s most fascinating. But recently, I’ve wondered if I should feel guilty sending my flawed, Jewish characters out into this world. Am I adding fuel to the fire? 
This is a sensitive time and writers are feeling it as we grapple with how to write about our own, while simultaneously being discouraged from writing about marginalized groups outside our own gender, race, sexuality, and religion.
This is a sensitive time and writers are feeling it as we grapple with how to write about our own, while simultaneously being discouraged from writing about marginalized groups outside our own gender, race, sexuality, and religion.
Even though Jew-hatred is surging, or maybe because Jew-hatred is surging, I refuse to censor. Knowing a Jewish person is strongly linked with Jewish acceptance and Holocaust knowledge, and presently, 31% of Americans don’t believe that six million Jews were murdered in Europe. Two-thirds of U.S. millennials are not familiar with Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp. Some deny the Holocaust happened altogether. It’s being x’ed from history, totally canceled.
Storytelling is a powerful tool that can break down barriers, teach, build bridges, and foster empathy. I will continue to tell stories about Jewish characters showing their light and dark sides because let’s get real; we’re all flawed—every one of us—and all of our voices and all of our stories must be told.


Corie Adjmi