Speaking Up, at the Very Least

Nancy Colasurdo
5 min readOct 25, 2022

Back in the early 2000s, I took a short-term job as the program director for a senior citizens’ center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I loved diving into the existing and potential possibilities of what would entertain the mostly Jewish members.

At one point my boss, the executive director, mentioned putting something on the calendar to celebrate Purim. I stared at her blankly. I had no idea what it was. I was in my early 40s. Always a responsible employee, I quickly familiarized myself.

And frankly haven’t thought about it much since. Until the last few weeks.

Described on Chabad.org as a “jolly” Jewish holiday, here’s how it defines Purim:

It commemorates the (Divinely orchestrated) salvation of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian empire from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”

Wait, what???

Back when I read this the first time, I don’t recall it landing on me as breathtaking. I read it as horrible and noteworthy, but so far in the past that it didn’t hit me in an emotional way. That was so long ago, I thought. Whew. Glad people aren’t that savage anymore.

Wait, what???

Aren’t they? Savage, I mean. Didn’t they just take the time to craft crude but clear anti-Semitic banners to hang over the 405 freeway in Los Angeles? All based on the words — “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE” — of a deeply biased, wealthy entertainer and attention whore?

When the white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville chanted “Jews will not replace us” surrounded by swastikas and other disturbing anti-Semitic imagery, it wasn’t until then-President Trump “both-sides-ed” the situation in a press conference that my senses went on high alert.

Still, I wasn’t spurred to action.

That was 2017. The following year, a shooting at a synagogue in Pennsylvania left 11 dead and an entire faith community shattered. I felt sick, but also paralyzed. What do I do with this?

Massive sigh.

I could keep ticking off the disgusting displays of anti-Semitism we see in this country daily and then list the whole lot of nothing I…

Nancy Colasurdo

Activist Journalist, Opinion Writer, Author, Life Coach in Greater NYC area. Occasional guest columnist at NJ.com. Six-word bio: Zen chick with a Jersey edge.