The Holocaust is no joke: why it’s sad that anti-Semitic pranks still happen today

By Morgan Levy ’19

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, on Jan. 26 a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison taped photos of Adolf Hitler and swastikas on a Jewish student’s door.  The punishments to the student have not been disclosed, and the university had an open dialogue about anti-semitism the following week. But I am still concerned that we live in a society where anti-semitism continues to be an issue.  

I grew up in a New Jersey suburb that was 50 percent Jewish.  There were five Bat Mitzvahs every weekend, all my friends were Jewish and we were off school for both the Jewish and the Christian holidays.  I was so used to living in a place where Jewish and Christian people happily coexisted, that I didn’t appreciate what the rest of America was like.  As a result, I never completely realized how much of a minority Jewish people are in the grand scheme of America.  I always took for granted that people knew and understood the magnitude of the Holocaust and respected the Jewish religion.  

Since coming to college, I have come to realize that is anything but the case for most of America.   While Lafayette has more Jewish students than the general American population, it is nothing compared to what I am used to.  Aside from questions from curious friends about different Jewish customs as silly as whether Jewish people really eat Chinese food and go to the movies on Christmas day (yes we do), I also answer a lot of questions about the Holocaust in particular.  

One of the most alarming conversations I have had since coming here with another student was about someone did not believe in the Holocaust.  The Holocaust, like evolution, is something with such overwhelming evidence that I cannot fathom that somebody could believe it never happened.  

When I think of the Holocaust, I think of all the movies and stories we discussed in Hebrew school.  I think of all the times I have been told to never forget.  I think of all the friends who lost their great-grandparents to this war.  I think of the 6 million lives that were lost.  

The University of Wisconsin-Madison claims that the dialogue and email to the campus will be enough.  However, this is only the start.  As a nation, we have a responsibility to make sure people are educated about the Holocaust and Judaism.  Maybe only 3 percent of our nation is Jewish, but that doesn’t mean people have the right to be ignorant.