It Ain’t Easy Being Heeb


So, a week or two ago, I wrote an opinion piece for the Bangor Daily News. To make a long story short, there’s a white supremacist, former Marine, and general goober, who when he’s not busy pressing cider for an AirBnB, dreams of opening a training camp for some imaginary race war.

As I said in both my opinion piece and as quoted to The Forward, I’m not afraid of Penobscot County Nazis, who lack even the capability of Illinois Nazis, who we all hate. My point is in tandem with the themes of the High Holy Days—when we commit to the fast the Divine seeks, to feeding the hungry, taking care of orphans and widows, basically being decent people, we solve problems. We take care of ourselves as a culture and as a society, especially in The Greatest Nation on Earth™, we deny white supremacists the kind of fertile ground they enjoy for their silly ideologies.

Enter this past weekend, when the biggest horror inflicted on the Jewish people since the Holocaust unfolded. For us, even here in the hinterlands of Maine, we are connected to Israel as one people. Leah and I worried about friends and relatives, and a grandson of one of our beloved congregants was murdered as part of his IDF K9 unit. Monday, for Jews around the world, was a black day.

Imagine my surprise when I was called to a meeting with Human Resources at the end of the day. Apparently, a member of our marketing department took exception to the fact that in the short, one sentence bio, it mentioned the name of my employer.

Fair enough, it’s against corporate social media policy.

But now, I’m terrified. Over the past 25 years, I’ve honed professional relationships due to the overlap between American and Israeli tech. I’ve built amazing friendships out of joint projects, not just with Jews but Israeli Arabs and even Palestinians contracted out of Ramallah. We speak a common language of productivity, and I love it. I believe, as a nerd would, that engineers committed to solving problems will save the world.

I’m worried that if I like or comment on posts from my Israeli friends, this will show up in the sights of our marketing brand gestapo. They know I know they reported me, so if I drop the connection with them, they can still see my activity on LinkedIn. This is how I stay in touch with dear friends and colleagues.

Now that I’ve had time to process so much, I think I’m outraged, but in an at-will employment world and two kids in college, how outraged can I afford to be? A friend who recently converted runs some very awesome social media presences, and she’s similarly terrified to express her support for Israel or Jewish concerns.

So I’m posting about it here, I guess, to kind of talk out loud. I won’t name my employer, but I won’t hide the fact that I’m really upset. I am not in harm’s way in Israel, B”H, but I feel diminished in my capacity to support my friends and loved ones expressively.

Brian

Writer, President of Bangor's Congregation Beth Israel, soldier, programmer, father, musician, Heeb, living in the woods of Maine with three ladies and a dog.

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1 Comment

  • Joe Gattuso
    October 22, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Brian, appreciate your post. Sadly, I suspect you are facing a dilemma that will only increase as the days go on.
    I sent a note to the office email at CBIsrael, but I noted your blog and read it a bit and thought then to communicate the same information to you. My wife and I have a 60-acre farm in northern Maine (up near Houlton), with two separate homes and space for either two separate families, or a number of small children. We also note the U.S. State Department has temporarily removed the visa restrictions for Israelis fleeing Israel. We thought we’d offer our farm as a sanctuary. While we are not Jews, we are prepared to give our lives so that Jews might stay alive–we are commanded to do so. If you’ve any thoughts about how we might make these resources available to immigrating Jews during this crisis, please don’t hesitate to reply. Thank you for your time.

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About Brian

Brian Kresge

Brian Kresge

Writer, President of Bangor's Congregation Beth Israel, soldier, programmer, father, musician, Heeb, living in the woods of Maine with three ladies and a dog.

About Leah

Leah Kresge

Leah Kresge

Director of Education for Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor, Maine, special educator and former school board member, mother to Amelia and Nezzie.

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