How to Talk with Your Children About Anti-Semitism

by Sarah Miller

In light of the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh I have been reflecting on why this shooting, and this event, has impacted me more than others in the past. I have come to this conclusion: the world is a much scarier place now that I have a daughter living in it.

As someone who identifies as Jewish, anti-semitism has been a part of my story and experience. I have heard the jokes, seen the movies, and have directly been on the receiving end of anti-semitic remarks. I never considered the possibility that I would have a child go through similar experiences, and honestly, it terrifies me.

How do I explain to my daughter that there will be people in the world who hate her, solely because she exists? Because half of her is Jewish—the half I passed down to her.

I have come to the realization that these conversations are unavoidable because the history of our people is filled with times of adversity and challenges. However, they are also filled with stories of resilience and community.

I have discovered that the challenge is not to teach her about anti-semitism and hatred- although having an open conversation about this is important, but to teach her how to love and show kindness in spite of these things.

Teaching tolerance, or even better—acceptance, may feel like a daunting task. Especially when there are so many others things to teach our children. For example, right now my daughter is supposed to be mastering the “pincer grasp,” how eat solids, and crawling (if she’s feeling motivated). However, maybe along with all these things there is still room to show her that people’s differences are what makes them interesting and unique.

Here are a few ways I have decided to introduce these concepts to my daughter:

  • Read books that take place in different countries
  • Read books with pictures of other babies from around the world
  • Teach her about different religions and beliefs
  • Begin an open conversation about her family’s identity and blended background (it’s never too early)
  • Go out to new places where she will be exposed to diverse individuals
  • Be an example for her by setting and example in how I talk about the world and people around her

If you’re struggling with events happening in our world today, please reach out and make an appointment today. You are not alone.

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Here is also a list of additional resources following the Pittsburgh shooting:

Sarah Miller

About Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller offers marriage counseling, individual counseling, and family therapy for adults and teens at Colorado Counseling Center. She specializes in couples relationships as well as family counseling for those impacted by addiction.

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