Aaron Schneider | Sydney, Australia | 23 years old

Tell us in a few words about yourself.

I am Aaron Schneider, a modern-orthodox Jew who was born and raised in Sydney, Australia and has recently made Aliyah to Jerusalem.

 

If you have experienced antisemitism in your country, how was it expressed?

One Shabbat afternoon, after having a lovely Shabbat lunch, we were on our way to Bnei Akiva. We were joking around and having a great time, just as anyone else our age would have been. As we walked down one of the main streets of Bondi, a car that was driving past rolled down their window shouted an antisemitic slur and hurled a beer bottle at us which narrowly missed me and my friends. Shocked and afraid we did not know what to do or how to react. We hurried to our community centre and alerted the security volunteers of what had happened to us. I’d never experienced something like this before and at that moment, my idilic view of people of Sydney as an open, accepting and laidback community – the people I grew up with and that provided me with my cultural identity – was supplemented with a level of unease I could never really shake. I was different.

 

What do you feel is the most productive way to fight hate?

Hate does not only mean one thing. Often we think that words and debate can mellow the hearts of even the most passionate. I’m not sure I believe that. Those who are truly open-minded and willing to hear other views should be engaged with and brought to the table of intellectual discussion. However, there are those who hate for the sake of hate, that have committed themselves to a one-sided shallow world view and denied any opportunity to hear the opinions of others. Shmoozing with them achieves nothing but reinforcing their own internal cycle of hate and plays into their worldview, rather, we must strip them of their platform and do our utmost to ensure their radicalised views do not spread. We must fight the spread of radicalisation at every turn before everyone’s ears are shut forever.

 

What message would you like to relay to young Jews throughout the world who are worried about antisemitism?

Those who hate are often the loudest but often the smallest (in number and mind). If you listen past the kicking and the screaming, most people are good, balanced and kind.

 

What message do you have for those marching in the “March of the living”

What you are doing is incredible, replacing what was once a walk of death, destruction and atrocity with one of renewed life, love and kindness. Just ensure that you continue this march even after you leave Poland. Continue this march for the rest of your life and the world will be a better place.

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