Folks, this is an interactive blog. So before you settle into reading, please go grab your grogger, or any old noisemaker. In these days before the holiday of Purim, I want to speak to Jared Kushner who, as a self-identified Orthodox Jew, has an opportunity that the rest of us can only dream of.
Jared, you can be our Queen Esther.
As you may recall, Queen Esther prevented the Persian Jewish genocide planned by an adviser to her husband, the guileless King Ahasuerus. Esther stopped — groggers up! — Haman in Shu-Shu-Shu-shan long ago.
We know Haman. He has had many names and aliases over the ages: Pope Urban II, Heinrich Himmler, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — the list is endless. But Jared, you have the ears of our current King Ahasuerus in the guileful — groggers up! — President Donald Trump and his personal Haman — let ‘em rip! — Steve Bannon. In fact, you sit in the room with our commander-in-chief’s whole team of Hamans.
How is it that you have remained silent?
Jared, perhaps you need some guidance. Maybe you are not familiar with the ways of a mentsch. You see, Esther would have spoken up. When Jewish institutions are daily threatened with bombs, when Jewish cemeteries are destroyed, when immigrants are shot down for the color of their skin, when the leader of the free world begrudgingly offers a weak and perfunctory admonishment of those terrorizing our country with hate crimes — Esther would have understood the subtext of dear leader’s response. When asked, during a press conference with Binyamin Netanyahu, his response to the overwhelming uptick in anti-Semitic activity here and around the world, Esther would have heard the obvious racism when your dear old dad-in-law answered with the old standby, “Some of my best friends (and family) are Jewish.”
Jared, your father-in-law failed to mention Jews in his statement on Yom HaShoah and used that day to unveil his hateful immigration ban. Worse yet, Jared, the only time you have invoked the blessed memory of your grandparents — Holocaust survivors who had to fight for refuge in this country — was to defend your father-in-law’s glaring bigotry. Esther would not have done that. We all know this language, we all recognize the dangerous autocratic scheme this president is building. We know these things like we know Haman, so why don’t you, Jared?
You may be cloaked in privilege and pretty enough to pass for a WASP, but make no mistake about it — your father-in-law sees you the same way Annie Hall’s family saw Woody Allen at their Easter dinner. Don’t be fooled. You are still the outsider, the Other. As Esther’s cousin Mordecai warned, “Do not think you will escape the fate of all the Jews by being in the King’s palace.”
Jared, you could be Queen Esther not for just the Jews but for all people of color, all non-Christians, all LGBTQ, all women! Queen Jared — it has a ring to it, no? Think about it for a while. Not too long, of course — Purim is just around the corner and our groggers are ready. Heed Mordecai who also said to Esther, “And who knows if it is not for just such a time that you reached this royal position?”
You can be our queen, Jared, or you can go down in history as just another — groggers! — Haman.
A former Baltimore resident, Deborah Walike is a self-described lapsed journalist living in upstate New York.
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