When my 49-year-old daughter calls me with the question, “When is it time to leave?” I don’t know what to say because I don’t have an answer.
Should it have been when her 7th-grade daughter had to leave the Day School when the JCC got a call that there was a bomb, and all the students were removed and trudged through snowy fields to reach a building nearby?
Should it have been earlier when she received a call from “the hill” where her then-12-year-old son was snowboarding telling her to come to get him because he had hit a boy? What had happened to cause him to hit someone? A boy near twice his size assaulted him verbally, telling Sam to get off the hill, that he was a dirty little Jew; Sam fearlessly dropped his board and slugged him in the face.
Should it have been in 2018 when her two nephews at a local high school experienced the outing of several students who had put a “funny” anti-Semitic party invitation online that led to coverage in the local press, and the high school administration stating that the students were being punished and there would be educational follow up for all high school students?
Should it have been when my daughter was in college more than 30 years ago when she was personally attacked verbally and in print by anti-Semites at the University of Missouri?
Should it have been when her brother, in college at Carleton, was subjected to anti-Semitic “jokes” by some of his baseball teammates as they sat on the bench at the field?
As I write this I think of “mild” anti-Semitic experiences I’ve had throughout my life beginning in 4th grade. I ask myself how did some European Jews know beginning in the 1930s that no matter the inconvenience, the indignities, the losses, the risks and the difficulties, it was time to flee, and they did? But others told themselves it wouldn’t get worse, though with each passing week, month, and year, it continued to get worse.
I’m reminded of the study of the frog put into a pot of water that was slowly brought to a boil. The frog died because the temperature rose incrementally. So am I a frog in a pot of water slowly coming to a boil? How can I know when it’s time? Should we go or stay? How do I answer my daughter’s question?