Phyllis Zimbler Miller and Evelyn Markus host the Never Again Is Now podcast.
For those of us who pay attention to the news of antisemitic statements and acts around the globe, the rise in these statements and acts in recent years has been alarming.
And as Evelyn Markus, a Dutch Jew and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, discusses in the documentary Never Again Is Now, these antisemitic statements and acts can come from both the left and the right of the political spectrum.
As the founder of the free nonfiction Holocaust theater project www.ThinEdgeOfTheWedge.com, I have been talking to a range of people in the U.S. and Europe. Jeremy Wootliff of Jewzy.tv suggested I watch Evelyn’s documentary.
I did watch the powerful documentary Never Again Is Now — and then I reached out to Evelyn, who immigrated to the U.S. in 2006 because of the rise of antisemitism in Europe. I proposed that she and I cohost a podcast interviewing both Jews and non-Jews about the antisemitism they or others currently face, their antisemitic experiences in the past, and the first time they learned about the Holocaust.
That show has now become a reality on YouTube with the first episodes published at b.link/NeverAgainIsNowpodcast.
The International Remembrance Holocaust Association (IRHA) has issued a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism that many organizations are adopting:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The reason our podcast is important is the same as the reason this definition is important: To make people aware of what antisemitism is.
For example, when someone says in front of you that Jews only care about money, do you freeze and say nothing? Or do you get angry and yell something back?
Neither freezing nor yelling back helps educate the person making the comment, who may not even realize it is an antisemitic comment.
What we all must do is practice how to answer such comments calmly and in a way that educates the other person. In the case of the statement about Jews only caring about money, perhaps an appropriate answer could be: “You may not realize that what you said is an antisemitic statement said for hundreds of years to harm Jews. I know you wouldn’t say such a statement about Blacks or Asian Americans. I hope in the future you won’t say such statements about Jews.”
Is this a tall order to learn to say such calm replies? Yes! And we all must learn to do it — to educate one person at a time.
I attended Michigan State University in the late 1960s. In my hometown of Elgin, Ill., I had been the only Jewish student in my classes, and I had so looked forward to being among Jews at college.
Fall 1966 — I am assigned to be roommates in Rather Hall with a young woman from Grosse Pointe and a young woman from Hamtramck. They were the opposite of welcoming.
The next quarter, I changed roommates to share with a young woman from a farm in Michigan. She had never before met a Jew.
Third-quarter — I shared with a young woman from Oak Park, who I heard tell someone on the dorm hall phone that she now had a Jewish friend.
Then I joined the Jewish sorority AEPhi and moved to the house the following year.
In September 1970, I would find myself stationed in Munich, Germany, with my Jewish U.S. Army officer husband (ROTC at MSU) who I met on the State News editorial staff. Being stationed in Germany only 25 years after the end of WWII changed my life and my husband’s life forever.
And this brings me to launching the Never Again Is Now podcast about antisemitism in 2021. You can subscribe (for free) and listen to the podcasts at b.link/NeverAgainIsNowpodcast.
And whenever you can (without exposing yourself to physical danger) — speak up against antisemitism and all hate.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-author of the Jewish holiday book Seasons for Celebration, the founder of the free nonfiction Holocaust theater project www.ThinEdgeOfTheWedge.com and the co-host of Never Again Is Now, a podcast about antisemitism on YouTube.