The shooter was either at the synagogue, near the synagogue, or even inside. They have him in custody already. I think I read that eight people are dead and three officers have also been shot. The newspapers described the neighborhood as “tree-lined.” Interesting. Not, “A bunch of storefronts with homeless people out front.” Not, “A maze of concrete.” Not, “A huge, impersonal mall.” Tree-lined. Doesn’t that sound wealthy to you? It does. And is. Squirrel Hill is known to be one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. I don’t know why wealth is associated with being Jewish. Also, why is being wealthy and Jewish associated with greed and dishonesty? I think that association reflects antisemitism.
Some people associate being wealthy with greed. I used to. I still associate wealth with snobbery. I shouldn’t. I was born into a family that had money and I as soon as I got to college I felt very guilty about how I had been raised. I felt guilty for having been born into privilege. I deliberately wore sloppy clothes to make myself look “poor.” I used sloppy grammar.
This shooting has ended up being national news at this point. The president has gotten involved, of course, by Tweet. The National Defamation League has chimed in. This is considered a hate crime.
Why aren’t crimes against diagnosed people (such as abuse while inpatient) considered hate crimes? Why, instead, is this called “treatment” and why is it rationalized away? Why is the crime called ECT rationalized and called “lifesaving” when it clearly isn’t? Yes it does kill people! A shooter who kills people anytime is going to go to prison. A mass shooter who kills 10-20 people is considered a grand scale shooter. If a medical institution loses 50 people to overdrugging that they then lies about it and covers up, and uses bad medical procedures such as ECT it’s not murder, it’s still “care.” And they’re paid, paid handsomely and upheld as “great.”
I’m not supposed to be writing on the Sabbath! I do, however. I write every day. I write because to me, writing is living. I am also at work because I’m a bad Jew. Anyway, this is terrible, likely an act of antisemitism, but we do not know yet. Right close to home here. The neighborhood is known to be a Jewish neighborhood. One of the Squirrel Hill supermarkets even has a Kosher section! This is unheard of anywhere else in the entire region. (Psst: this is at the Market Basket!). Likely also Whole Paycheck in Shadyside (okay, okay, Whole Foods…) has a Kosher section, but I will not set foot in that snob store. I only went to Market Basket one time and was overwhelmed by the shiny, icky, flashy feel to it so I never returned.
Either way, Squirrel Hill is near Shadyside and all part of the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. If you know where Pitt is (U of Pittsburgh), the surrounding area is called Oakland. Oakland and the whole area around Frick Park is overrun with students. Squirrel Hill is somewhat set apart as are some of the outlying areas over there, such as East Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, Homewood, and so on. I’ve only been to Squirrel Hill a couple of times. It looks surprisingly like Long Island, which may be dismaying to some, and refreshing to others. Shadyside also resembles Long Island. To me, the Long Islands and the student areas are like foreign cities. I can’t get used to being there.
I am a bad Jew, but Jewish nonetheless. I think my parents were smart because they avoided names like Chava or Miriam for me. That would have been a giveaway. My great grandfather (or was it great great?) Anglicized our last name. I believe someone documented his reasoning on this. He wanted to be American. Did it work? I doubt doing that obliterated his accent, or wiped out his memory of the Old World.
Changing your name accomplishes many great things, even though the act has its limitations. Name-changing has been a symbol throughout history. Naming, the act of giving a word to something, is sacred in Judaism, something attributed to God. In fact, when parents name their children they are said to take on the power of God within them to do such a thing. Only temporarily.
Now think on that one. When a doctor declares you BIPOLAR, he gives you a powerful name. This is an act that should only be done by a god, not by man. And yet the doctor has done this. He has forever altered what you are called.
Who calls this, calls you.
When a Native child goes out into the wilderness during the Coming of Age, this is called the Spirit Journey by some. Usually only taken on by boy children but sometimes also by girls. The child comes back knowing his new name. I have friends who went on such journeys. One of them kept his new name and never went back to his legal name. (No, it wasn’t something weird. Just another regular-sounding name. That was how I knew him.) In the 60s these journeys were often enhanced by drugs such as mushrooms or LSD.
When my great (maybe great great) grandfather journeyed to the New World, which wasn’t very new but new to him, he took on a new language and a new nationality. I suppose he didn’t want a Jewish-Hungarian-German-sounding name anymore. He took on an Anglo-sounding one instead, and made it his. Naming is sacred. Now he was a new person. A Jew in exile, able to hide in this new land.
That name, the one that symbolized the exile and hidden heritage and all those memories, eventually became mine.
Every day an Orthodox Jewish man thanks God he is not born a woman. Every day a psych survivor thanks God (or whomever) that she is not still in the nuthouse. I thank God every day I didn’t die (yet) of the drugs they gave me.
How about you?