The Hate Movement began during the Obama Administration and has continued on into the Trump Administration. I am writing this as a historical record of what has happened to me over the last 8 years so that future generations can learn from the mistakes of the past, and I do not mean mine.
The last 8 years of my life have been nothing short of terrifying. Terrifying that American society has sunk this low. I am a highly educated person, having earned a master’s degree in 2003. Until March of 2009, I worked for a Canadian insurance company with a salary of $45,000 per year. I lived in a condo, owned a vehicle and lead a fairly normal life. My relationship of 13 years had ended a few years before leaving me in debt as I had supported us for most of those 13 years.
Because of the debt, which was not only accumulated by me, but I was the one stuck with paying it off after the relationship ended, I was staying with a friend as I could not afford to rent an apartment of my own. When that ended I rented a room from a stranger.
The house I lived in was shared by my landlord and another man who was an artist. I had a small room on the first floor. Having gone from a condo to a room I had to put most of my belongings in storage. This was a huge adjustment for me as I had lived on my own in apartments or condos since age 18. I did not feel like myself living in a stranger’s house, having to live by their rules. I had always been very independent and responsible. Not only had my relationship ended but so had my independence.
In his book The Prophets, Abraham Joshua Heschel stated, “The things that horrified the prophets are even now daily occurrences all over the world. There is no society to which Amos’ words would not apply.
Hear this you who trample upon the needy, and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying: when will the new moon be over that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great, and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and sell the refuse of the wheat. Amos 8:4-6.
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a spiritual leader who cared not only for his own people, but for all people the world over. After surviving the horrors of the Holocaust he went on to become a rabbinical leader, professor, activist and author, He believed in social action and fought for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and protested against the Viet Nam war. He saw many changes in his lifetime and was responsible for bringing about positive societal changes himself.
Abraham Joshua Heschel was born in 1907 in Warsaw Poland. He descended from preeminent European rabbis on both sides of his family. Through the Holocaust he lost most of his family while still a young man. His father died when he was 9. His sister Esther was killed in a German bombing. His mother was murdered by the Nazis and his other 2 sisters died in a concentration camp.
Heschel attended school where he studied Talmud and Kabbalah. he then moved to Berlin and attended a university where he also taught Talmud. In 1937 Martin Buber appointed him his succesor at the Central Organiation for Jewish Adult Education.
In 1938 while renting a room in Frankfurt, Germany he was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Poland. Ten months later He left Warsaw for London with the help of HUC president Julian Morgenstern. He never returned to Poland, Germany or Austria. He wrote,
“If I should go to Poland or Germany, every stone, every tree would remind me of contempt, hatred, murder, of children killed, mothers burned alive, of human beings asphyxiated.”
Move to the United States
Heschel moved to the United States in 1940, relocating to New York City. He then served on the faculty of the Hebrew Union College (HUC) for 5 years. He married Sylvia Straus, a concert pianist in Los Angeles, California. In that same year he took a position at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the main seminary of Conservative Judaism. He was professor of Jewish ethics and mysticism until his eath in 1972.
A Call to Social Action
Believing the teachings of the Hebrew prophets were a call for social action, Heschel worked for African American civil rights and met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr while at a conference on race and religion in Chicago. He marched with Dr. King in Selma. He also spoke out against the war in Viet Nam, stating in an interview on The External Light on NBC in 1972,
“How can I pray when I have on my conscience the awareness that I am co-responsible for the death of innocent peope in Vietnam? In a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible.”
The presence of God
Abraham Joshua Heschel rose above the tragedy of the Holocaust to live a life dedicated to teaching the wisdom of the Judaism and participating in social action. He once said,
“We are called upon to be an image of God. You see God is absent, invisible, and the task of a human being is to represent the Divine, to be a reminder of the presence of God.”
I am one of the many women who have experienced harassment only to have my complaints thrown to the wayside. The man who harassed me was a member of my synagogue. He and his wife invited me to stay with them for a while as they knew I did not have a place to stay. I was excited that members of my synagogue would be so kind. I was in the process of conversion and I was hoping to learn how a Jewish household was run, how to prepare Jewish food and celebrate holidays. I thought I might be able to help them out as well as their house and yard were big.
The first few weeks I was there they were away on a cruise and I watched their dog. Upon their return they became different people than the ones I had met at synagogue. They had always been friendly and kind. Now that I was living with them they suddenly changed. They began taunting me with things they found out about me. Nothing bad, but these were things that only my landlord who had sent me into homelessness would know. I realized they must somehow know her, probably through the senior services office she had worked at. A friend invited me out for a drink on my birthday and I was treated as though I was a minor, even though I was 54 at the time. I was told I wore children’s clothing, they insinuated that my ex’s family only pretended to like me, and on and on and on. It got worse instead of better. I knew through experience not to over react and leave, as I had no where to go. They knew this, and it was winter in Seattle. I bit my tongue at all of their verbal abuse and weathered out the winter.
The abuse was not only at home. He was active in the same political groups that I was and tried to sway their opinion of me for the worse rather than the better. This had an impact on my employment as the people involved in the political groups were also my employers. At Torah study they mocked me and carried on theatrics to make me look bad. I had no idea why they were doing these things to me and I was very hurt by it.
I moved out of their house and their abuse continued at political functions and at synagogue. I decided I could no longer be a door mat. I went to a demonstration at a Macy’s store by employees. I decided to join them as I had once worked their and agreed with their objections. While I was in the picket line he showed up and eventually walked up to me. I told him in a calm tone of voice, “I am going to ask you nicely to leave me alone.” He tried to say something and I repeated my words. He walked off and I hoped he would respect my wishes.
Instead of respecting my wishes, his abuse became worse. The theatrics at synagogue continued, and he and his wife constantly insinuated that I needed to be made homeless. The only reason I could think of that they acted this way was my former landlord. A convention was held in Seattle over a weekend. He tried to approach me, and I reminded him I had asked him to leave me alone. At one of the sessions he sat across the room from me, which I found acceptable. He them moved to a seat next to the woman I was sitting with. I reported this to the convention staff, yet he continued to harass me. At a meeting of the King County Labor Council he signed that he was going to take my seat away from me, which he was successful at doing. He took away my career at the union.
I take my time spent worshipping and studying Torah at synagogue very seriously. Having someone like him constantly harassing me was devastating, especially after what happened with the union. I complained to the synagogue staff about his behavior. nothing was done and the behavior continued. He sometimes acted like a small boy pestering a playmate and he often had a grin on his face. The continued harassment began to take a toll and was causing depression. Instead of being a victim I decided to take action. I tried to serve him with a restraining order. The police said they were unable to find his house. I went to court anyway and the judge did not do anything.
I finally moved away from Seattle, for many reasons, that being one of them. I am still dismayed at all he was able to do to try and destroy me. I spoke up and complained about what he was doing to me, something I would not have done in the past. No one would help me, they continued to support him and treated me like I was a pain in the ass. Members of my synagogue signed that they were going to make me homeless. Retaliation for speaking out.
I have not in my past accused a man of harassment. It took a lot of courage to speak up and to try and do something about someone who was not only harassing me, but trying to destroy my character and good name and was successful at it. I spoke the truth and was treated as a nuisance.
I am glad the women of Hollywood have been more successful than I at calling out bad behavior and that action is being taken. Nothing makes one feel so small as to have the courage to speak up and then to be ignored. It is time that we stop ignoring those who speak up. I was not sexually abused, but harassment is harassment. I think in horror about those who are sexually abused and ignored. It is an ill our society needs to fix as it leaves permanent scars.
In this day and age to have to rent instead of being a home owner puts you at risk for becoming homeless. In the city of Seattle some crooked landlords are creating and adding to the problem of homelessness. Being able to charge higher rents may be the cause.
My story begins in 2009 when I rented the basement apartment from a woman named Hla Yin Yin Waing (aka Wang Helmstetter). I made the mistake of not insisting on a rental contract, which I will never do again. Our verbal agreement began with an agreed upon amount for rent and the stipulation that I would pick her children up from school and watch them until she arrived home around 6PM. That would give me the day to work on my photography business, which I was trying to start after attending fine art photography school.
Unfortunately Wang began asking for more and more favors until I was waking the family up at 8AM, helping get the children ready for school, driving Wang downtown to her job at the senior services center and driving the children to 2 different schools. I then had to pick them up and take them to their after school activities, come home, cook them dinner and wait for Wang to get home around 9 or 10. It was a full day and did not leave me time to work. All of this was done for free and she demanded rent. At first I could pay with my unemployment money, but when that ran out I had nothing. She demanded more and more and I felt I had to do it to keep a roof over my head. I had never been homeless.
I reopened my unemployment claim and began paying her rent again. I told her I could no longer be a nanny to her children as I needed to look for work. That is when she really got ugly. She intentionally flooded my apartment, which began to smell from the water damage. She told me when it happened that she was not going to help me. it was an attempt to get me to move. She began putting pressure on me about what I was going to do when my unemployment ran out. She began with holding my mail, coming into my apartment when I was and was not there. if I had a date or plans she would call me and say she was coming home late.
I finally moved to Denver to get away from her controlling behavior. My nightmare with her did not end there. She started a campaign of hate against me stating to people that I owed her money, that I was crazy and convinced people that I need to be held back so that others more worthy than I can fill job positions.
I have mostly been homeless since that time. I moved back to Seattle in 2013 where I was harassed by Asians on a daily basis. I was hit on the back of the head on the bus by an Asian man, I was ran off the road, harassed on public transportation and a bus driver refused to pick me up until I started standing in the road so he would have to stop or run me over. My complaints to police went unnoticed. Public transportation finally put up signs against harassment.
An elderly couple from my synagogue let me stay with them for a while. At first I thought it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I soon learned otherwise. They began emulating my landlord whom I believe they met through senior services where she taught classes on how to do to others what she did to me. They knew things only she could have told them. They tried simulating the flooding of the basement, which ended up almost getting me killed as I was going to plug in a hair dryer but at the last minute change my mind. Had I done so I would not be here now. I do not believe it was intentional, but the flooding was.
Hla Yin Yin Waing is now the Executive Director of a non-profit organization called the Center for Ethical Leadership. I believe this organization conducts classes on how to do to others in Seattle what she did to me. I know this from a Facebook post where she and her organization were recommended for just that sort of thing.
if people are being manipulated into leaving or eviction, that is causing the number of homeless to rise. She is emulating Ang Sung Suu Kyi the leader of Myanmar who uses the same techniques to control the muslim minority there called the Rohingya, where a genocide of these people is now occurring.
If we want to end homelessness we need to stop supporting organizations that are creating homelessness. Before you donate money to an organization be sure you know what they are actually doing. In looking at the Center for Ethical Leadership’s website the explanation of what they do is vague. Be sure an organization can provide concrete figures and results of what they provide.
Let us make 2018 the year we begin to end homelessness.