mental health Sundays #8 - antisemitism and mental health


I don’t even know where to begin. My mental health can’t be untangled from antisemitism, both the antisemitism that I’ve personally faced, and the generations of antisemitism that have shaped me and my family. From a grandparent with severe PTSD from the Holocaust, to displacements and exiles and new beginnings, to my mother’s pregnancy with me, a lot of which she spent in a bomb shelter. I spent so much of my childhood in fear of suicide bombings, convinced that every time my father, my only relief from my mother’s abuse, went back to Israel, he would never come back. I’ve had to swallow microaggressions since elementary school. I was essentially driven out of my middle school after the principal blamed my Jewishness for my reluctance to forgive a teacher’s abusive behavior. In high school, college, and grad school, I had to bite my tongue when my peers called Jews colonizers. In the depths of an eating disorder, while I was exercising myself to death, a high school teacher thought it appropriate to grill me on my stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I pretended not to care when an old boyfriend made jokes at the expense of my people. I’ve survived bombs. I’ve experienced a lifetime of passing through metal detectors before entering a synagogue or Jewish community center. I’ve never, ever felt safe in activist spaces, because it doesn’t take long for them to show me that their activism doesn’t extend to people like me.

We’re told that antisemitism doesn’t exist anymore, that we’re being dramatic, that discussing our oppression is a distraction from the real issues. The amount of gas lighting that makes us doubt our own experience is hard to describe. We are tokenized by right wingers and leftists alike, and told that this tokenization is acceptance. But we never really fit in anywhere. We never have.

The silence from my friends hurts me at a visceral level and fuels my anxiety and depression. I feel expendable and used at the same time. And I don’t even know how to start healing from this trauma when no one will even begin to acknowledge it.