I live in Stamford and am a devoted advocate for both gun safety and reproductive choice. I am deeply concerned about the path America is taking since having chosen Donald Trump as its now President-elect. It is deeply troubling to me and my family to see the anti-Semitic, anti-woman, anti-human rights rhetoric coming out of Mr. Trump’s mouth and inflamed by his choices for his White House transition team, including the disturbing appointment of Steve Bannon, known white supremacist. This is not the America I know.
My great-grandfather Joseph Oizerwitz escaped the anti-Semitic persecution of Jews in Poland prior to WWII. He came from a small town called Stubnitz (the name of which may have been called differently by non-Jews), which, during Germany’s Nazi regime, was completely destroyed, its homes demolished, its cemeteries decimated, its people ripped from their homes, husbands from wives, children from mothers. The Jews who stayed in Stubnitz, most likely including some of my distant relatives, were forced into the Auschwitz camps and killed. Nothing remains today of the Jewish life lived in Stubnitz.
Pop-pop Joseph, who would live to age 102, came to America as a teenager. America promised a better life for him, and indeed, Pop-pop was able to make a modest life as a hard-working tailor and family man. Because he lived so long, I have the honor of having known my great-grandfather. And I know that he was proud to have lived an American life.
I understand that our government is made up of a system of checks and balances, and that the role of President is a temporary one. But still, this democratic structure does little to comfort me knowing that this xenophobic, racist person who has promised to register and deport people of a certain faith, namely, Muslims, had been chosen by half our country to lead us as our Chief Executive. As the descendant of persecuted Jews, I find this beyond unacceptable. I am horrified.
We must bring our voices to Mr. Trump and to Congress and continue our advocacy for a safe and just society. Continue to fight for communities where all of us can feel free to worship the way we see fit, free to feel safe walking down the street without fear of harassment and violence, and are free to make the best choices for our families and ourselves. Don’t let happen to Muslim Americans what happened to Pop-pop and countless Jews in Poland during those very dark times.
This essay is an amended version of my letter sent to Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
Photo of Pop-pop holding my Daddy when he was a toddler, Lakewood, New Jersey, 1944.