Defamation and the Swastika from a Jewish Woman’s Perspective.

With the recent spate of antisemitism since October 7th, 2023, and the current college protests ripping apart people based on their religion and connection to one region, my body and mind have felt torn. A piece of my heart is broken for all the lives lost where boundaries are crossed, governments want to take over territories, and hostile people incur war, affecting a variety of religious sects and communities across the globe.

Why are there distant shadows and victims of terror and tragedy when there is a beloved land, home to many communities and people who have a love for life?

For this time, I, like many of my Jewish peers, feel fractured by my fate and Jewish faith.

As a Jewish American, throughout my life, I have felt the brunt of being a minority. Yet, it has also given me sensitivity and curiosity about who I am and how to learn to respect other cultural and religious practices. With all due respect for others’ beliefs, we can learn to love, cherish, and respect each other if we choose to love, not hate.

I stand by and with my people and many who celebrate the uniqueness of all. Yet this doesn’t mean I wish ill upon another. Quite the contrary, I can’t imagine any parent or teacher teaching another to hate someone based on their ethnicity, to warrant ethnic cleansing, to want to act in a disproportionately terroristic mentality, or to put anyone in harm’s way intentionally. What is the cost of defeat when language and every brown, white, black, and yellow-toned baby is born with more similarities than differences?

Religious upbringings and traditions give many families and people reason to come together. There are lifecycle rituals around life and death, holy days, meals, and celebrations for all levels of faithfulness. For many, the foundation we’re given as children, regardless of our views, can assist us in finding our bearings when life goes off-kilter. For others, there’s rebellion and not wanting to follow. Some conforming fundamentalists, who have gone too far, are rote followers instead of free-thinkers.

The faltering, falsehoods, myths, stories, and misconstrued premises have led many astray. Some do not believe in anything. We cannot act with kindness and compassion without guidance and trusted direction.

I am sharing one piece of my heritage and my quandary about the manipulation of symbols.

The holiday that commemorates the hardship and freedom of the Jewish people emanating from slavery in Egypt is known as Passover.

What one believes in as a means to better oneself and bring family, friends, and people together, as in yoga, meaning union, makes my heart sing, yet here we are in times of much disharmony.

From the recent months of antisemitic misfortunes and mistruths from which I am only sharing my heart’s contemplative perspective, I wanted to offer one symbolic synergistic harmonic and evasive alliance where groups unite or disengage, devoid of any sense of understanding the larger context of being human.

Since I tend to put myself in someone else’s shoes, I want to reflect further and conclude with a question as the war in the Middle East continues. Many Jewish families often invite a friend(s) of all faiths to their seder during Passover dinners to join them in our reminder of freedom for all beings.

Did you know that in the ancient Hindi language of Sanskrit, swastika means “well-being.”  Its root had surfaced over a thousand years ago as an Indian symbol.

Unbeknownst to me until recently, the swastika was a symbol once noted for its connective connotation in Hindu mythology, early carvings, and scripture in the Eastern world. It represented good faith intentions for thousands of years, only to be diluted by a nasty regime, now synonymous with the evil symbol of Naziism and hatred.

The Nazis stole the swastika from the Hindu culture to represent the ancient lineage of the Aryans. I was surprised to find this out.

“German scholars translating old Indian texts, who noticed similarities between their language and Sanskrit concluded that Indians and Germans must have had a shared ancestry and imagined a race of white god-like warriors they called Aryans.”

The Ancient Greeks were also said to have incorporated swastika signs for decorative purposes. I cherish a gold bracelet chain purchased when I studied abroad, and I now see the resemblance to the flowing matrix symbol.

Derived from Sanskrit, the ancient language of love, over 7000 years ago, it has gone from beauty to hatred. How, why, in God’s name, has this defamation of the ugliest nature risen again after all of the disharmony it stood for when the table of intolerable indignation for the Jewish people turned?

Nazi banners depicting hateful slogans using specific colors, which were all a part of the regime’s manipulation, were used to brainwash.

Genocide, which wanted to erase a group of people based on their beliefs, was a word formulated after the darkness of those who suffered at the cost of Nazism, provoking the Holocaust. Ignorant peoples, university professors, and students under one reign of today are misappropriating what genocide means. It stemmed from the murder of 6 million Jews because they were Jewish. Many non-Jews who stood in the way of the big agenda died, too.

The misappropriation of the swastika defaced the lines that once symbolized good fortune in almost every culture rooted for thousands of years.

For all of our potential brilliance, it appears that a horrific number of individuals, many young on campuses throughout America and around the world, are being dominated by mind-controlled social media. How could any family, group, or religious sect go against one specific tribe and be permitted to spread terror and evil? Desecrating buildings with hateful graffiti. When will the belligerence end?

*As more evidence erupts about this “long pre-Nazi history in Europe, can this ancient sign ever shake off its” deceptive associations? I don’t think so, at least not for now, with the rise of anti-Semitism and the use of its defacement.

I even found the swastika symbol in one of my kundalini yoga of awareness teaching manuals, in which a kriya meditation invites practitioners to cross their arms as a posture for good fortune following the form inscribed motif.

In a writing group a few years ago, one woman exclaimed she had no idea what the term swastika meant. Hence, I decided to include some of its histories. She, a woman of the Baptist faith, understood its connotation the moment I said it was equivalent to the KKK. There was immediate understanding.

Her voice represents a generation of students of the past five decades in America who have not learned about antisemitism in their academic schooling. Hatred of the Jews, shielded on purpose as if the Holocaust never existed. Anne Frank’s Diary used to be required reading for school children, but apparently, it’s no longer due to curriculum infiltration changes. It is banned from many booklists. Anne Frank went into hiding at age 13 with her family to escape the persecution of the Jews during the Holocaust. She considered her journal her only friend. “Anne felt that paper had more patience than people to concentrate on her plight.” One Jewish race of faith, for thousands of centuries, was wickedly defaced by ignorant ones who chose to erase it.

In one nearby school district, middle schoolers were not allowed to write about the Holocaust when prompted to write about genocide. When she questioned why, the teacher answered the curious student. Our curriculum requires “ you learn of other genocides because you already learned all that is relevant to know of the Holocaust when you were younger .” Upon further research for their assignment on genocides, anti-Israel propaganda content came up. Plus, there was no sign of the Holocaust’s relevance to further study. The search engine optimization favored a charaded scholastic coverup. Though Rabbis, other clergy, and a group of parents briefly addressed the matter via “their” children’s assignment, the case in question was tainted. The district’s chosen educational protocol for learning lacked change. The school system’s curriculum, like many throughout America, looked the other way and ignored the Holocaust by Implorable Ignorance.

In a recent writing group, a colleague shared how one of her friends, a teacher, worked in a New Mexico high school with the swastika motif adorned on its front doors as illustrative of the Anasazi American Indian symbol. Had it predated Nazi Germany or not? The Establishment informed her, a Jewish woman, of its representation of good fortune. She cringed each time she entered the building. Jewish or not, I would have felt uncomfortable, too. Would you?

Symbols of love can enhance or hinder our religious, spiritual, and ritual lifecycles—oneness with God or godlike attributes and compassion for all beings and experiences. When religions favor duality to separate and act with superior connotations, atrocious, intentional division, coercion, name-calling, rhetoric propaganda, and other criminal intent, hate blindsides love. It disrupts the state of consciousness instead of allowing our conscience to be our altruistic guide.

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