By: Elizabeth Pipko
As I walked up to the stage to give my speech at Turning Point USA’s Young Jewish Leadership Summit earlier this week, I could only think about one thing. My grandfather’s voice was rushing through my head, almost more clearly than if he had been right there next to me; then again maybe he was.
My grandfather was the proudest Jew I had ever known. He fought with all that he had for his faith in every aspect of his life and taught me to do the same. Growing up I always wondered what he meant when he told me to “fight for my people.” I grew up in New York City, attending synagogue regularly, and loving every minute I spent in my religious Jewish school. I had no idea what it meant to fight to be a Jew. In fact, I had no idea what it meant to fight for anything.
My grandparents believed in sharing history. I was told about the holocaust regularly, and retold and retold.
As a child, thinking about the holocaust kept me up at night. My grandmother often showed me photos of concentration camps and told me stories of Jews who managed to keep their faith even in a time when it seemed impossible. This may have been just a few years ago, but clearly much has changed in such a short amount of time. The term “concentration camp” was one I was never even comfortable saying out loud. The murder of six million Jews was something I couldn’t fathom or begin to understand. This was a time when the term “concentration camp” was not thrown around for political reasons or dramatic effect, clearly a lot has changed.
I often wonder what my grandfather would be feeling and doing if he was alive today; witnessing the anti-Semitism sweeping the country which he loved so much. The country that he risked his life to escape to.
Today, we are living in a time where anti-Semitism has become mainstream. Where members of Congress make jokes and comments about Jews and their connection to money, or “Benjamins baby,” where popular celebrities make antisemitic comments and don’t have to apologize for them, and when one of the most popular newspapers in the world thinks it’s alright to publish a cartoon depicting a Jew and Israeli as a dog on a leash.
We have entered a time where synagogues now must be protected by armed guards. And as grateful as I am by the support and protection we are able to receive in America, I am terrified for the direction that we are heading in. Some days I just sit and wonder what I can do.
In these times I think to what my grandfather would tell me, I know if he was here today, he’d tell me to fight. To fight for my people and what we have been through, to fight for the country that made my freedom possible, and to fight for the young Jewish children that deserve to be brought into a world where antisemitism isn’t accepted or defended.
My grandfather often told me how important it was to stand up for what mattered, even if it meant standing alone. That is why I founded The Exodus Movement. My organization is focused on supporting Jewish Americans, fighting anti-Semitism wherever it appears, and defending Israel and its right to exist. Jewish Americans deserve more than to be taken for granted by people that continuously prove that they don’t support them, and in a time where antisemitism is clearly on the rise, I will make it my mission to make sure that Jewish Americans are never taken for granted again.
Elizabeth Pipko is a former model and 2016 Trump campaign staffer from New York City. Elizabeth is currently the founder and president of The Exodus Movement, committed to fighting the rising anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism of the far left as well as promoting the importance for support of the State of Israel.