One year after the election of Donald Trump, the Orthodox Jewish community remains conflicted.
Yes, many Orthodox Jews voted for Trump. Yes, many Orthodox leaders hesitated before coming out with a critical statement of the president after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. And no matter what #45 may do, there is this sense that his religious Jewish supporters will forever refuse to admit they were wrong.
At the same time, there’s also been an interesting, grass-roots resistance emerging in the community, between Orthodox ‘NeverTrump’ Facebook groups going public, more and more visibly Orthodox Jews showing up at rallies for racial justice, and some groups raising tens of thousands of dollars on behalf of causes like Puerto Rico relief efforts, who noticed that there was no drop-off location in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and immediately took to social media in English and Yiddish to raise funds and supplies.
For a ‘woke’ Orthodox Jewish mother like me, living in Brooklyn, a central part of my liberal activism is figuring out how to raise my children with the values I believe stem from Torah Judaism and which I vocally advocate for.
It’s not easy. While I can talk to my children about large issues such as equality, activism, inner strength, resisting tyranny, fighting injustice, I know I’m up against a lot of social pressure, with most of their classmates coming from passionately pro-Trump families. And I don’t always have the answers to some of their toughest questions: Why does my uncle like President Trump? Why do our politicians want to deport immigrants and refuse assistance to war refugees? Teaching children to resist unjust authority while we respecting teachers and elders is a delicate balance.
But at least, I know I’m not alone in what feels like an uphill battle.
During election season, one 35-year-old Orthodox mother who resides in Flatbush, Brooklyn told me how her then-6-year old soberly voted for Clinton during their first-grade mock election. “She told me she was the only one who voted for Clinton, and all of her classmates voted for Trump. She was shy about being the only one, but insisted on her candidate.”
Sara Atkins, a political activist living in Philadelphia with her husband and five children, took some of her children to a 24-hour healthcare vigil.