History: The Jewish holiday season is marked by an increase in anti-Semitism. Courtesy photo

This Sunday at sundown marks the first day of Hanukkah and eight days later, on Monday at sundown the wonderful Jewish festival of lights holiday ends. Unfortunately we’re experiencing the worst anti-Semitism since 1939. (Clearly this is not exactly my most up-lifting opening paragraph.)

On November 20, 1939, New York’s Madison Square Garden hosted a rally to celebrate the rise of Nazism in Germany. It was organized by the German-American Bund founded to spread Nazi ideology in the U.S. Twenty thousand haters raised Nazi salutes toward a 30-foot tall portrait of George Washington flanked by swastikas.

If that rally were today Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who claimed California wildfires were started by “Jewish Space lasers,” would have been on the stage. Monday Greene bragged if she and Steve Bannon had been in charge of January 6, they would have won because they would have been armed.

White supremacist and Holocaust denier, Nick Fuentes and Ye, formerly Kanye West, who joined Donald Trump for dinner at Mar-a-Lago, would be right next to MTG. Trump was impressed with Fuentes “he gets me” and Kanye praised Hitler.

One day Ye’s loving Hitler might be difficult for him to explain to his children. After his anti-Semitic rants, reportedly Ye lost 1 ½ billion dollars in canceled business ventures with companies like Adidas. But alas, his fans have started a Go Fund Me Page to make him a billionaire again.

NBA star Kyrie Irving might have been at the rally, too. In November he tweeted a link to an anti-Semitic film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” Donald Trump’s father, Fred, wasn’t at the rally but he was arrested following a May 30, 1927 brawl in Queens between the KKK and NYPD.

Also in the 1930’s, in Santa Monica’s Rustic Canyon, Hitler sycophants built a large Nazi compound, Murphy’s ranch, that still stands today but was abandoned long ago. Years before that in Los Angeles years Jews were restricted from the Wilshire Country Club, L.A. Country Club, L.A. Tennis Club and The Ebel Club which included the Wilshire Ebel Theater. So in 1923 Jews founded their own classy country club, Hillcrest.

This takes me back more decades than I care to admit to. Unbeknownst to me, my upcoming bar mitzvah was going to be on KTLA. After Hebrew School at Temple Isaiah I was greeted excitedly by my mother, who was on the Board of Directors. “Guess what? Your bar mitzvah is going to be on TV!”

Already stressed to the bone I replied, “Guess what? No it’s not!” Realizing maybe I should have been consulted beforehand my mom backtracked, “That’s fine, dear but you’ll have to tell Rabbi yourself.”

All of 5’ tall when I entered Rabbi Lewis’ office he stood an overpowering 6’4,” had a deep and wise sounding voice but also a temper beneath the surface. “I gather you’re not enthusiastic about your bar mitzvah being on television.” In my head I thought, “You gathered right, Rab.”

Rabbi motioned for me to sit and began a lengthy sermon about the history of anti-Semitism from slavery in Egypt to Hitler’s holocaust. He emphasized this would be the first time in L.A. history that any Jewish traditional ceremony would be televised which he hoped could stem anti-Semitism. Essentially he was saying it was fine for me to say no if I was okay with a second Holocaust.

When we arrived at the studio on Sunday morning at 7 a.m., the director gently broke the news to my father he had made “minor changes” in my bar mitzvah speech. “It was just a little too Jewish.” “Too Jewish?! My father hit the roof but the director sheepishly explained, “Mr. Neworth, our viewers are expecting to see ‘The Christ Hour of Power’ and instead they’re going to be seeing your son.”

The crew had made up cue cards of the changes and we rehearsed. At 8 a.m. Sharp the show went on, as the saying goes, and I didn’t pass out. My mother was thrilled and relatives as far away as San Diego saw it and gave rave reviews, mostly in Yiddish.

In the past fifty years, I haven’t been aware of the loathsome anti-Semitism of today. That is until the Charlottesville tiki-torch mob chanting “Jews will not replace us,” Trump’s “fine people on both sides,” and the grotesque AR-15 massacre in of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Temple in Pittsburgh.

And now we have MTG, Kanye, Fuentes, Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers among others. Frankly, I hope those that deserve it wind up in prison. For the others I’d like to see them temporarily tied up and forced to listen to every word of Rabbi Lewis’ sermon which, to them, might be worse than water boarding.

Jack is at: facebook.com/jackneworth,twitter.com/jackneworth and jackdailypress@aol.com