BERLIN, GERMANY—Amid a national emergency and crumbling economy, two members of a Jewish family find themselves on opposite sides of the political discussion. One of the men, a businessman by the name of Josef Judenstein, refuses to abide by the law that requires him to wear a yellow Star of David on his clothing. This has caused conflict between Judenstein and one of his cousins, Judah Iscarwitz, who believes that the law in question will help the country.
When asked why he opposed the law, Judenstein said he feared it could lead to additional measures of greater government control over people. “This law puts in the public eye information that some people may want to keep private. Given the history of my people, how am I supposed to not worry when a government wants to be able to identify all Jews? There’s not exactly a great track record there,” he said. In his daily life, Judenstein worries about the safety of his family and livelihood. He stated, “Even aside from political possibilities, this could lead to my kid getting bullied or my business being vandalized.” Emphasizing the value of personal liberty, he continued, “The government has no reason to dress me, anyway; I’ve been successfully dressing myself since I was eight! People ought to be able to wear whatever they want, as long as it’s not indecent.”
Iscarwitz says that Judenstein is a conspiracy theorist. He is unimpressed by the concerns of his relative. “I will absolutely stand up beside [Judenstein] when the government threatens our lives, but this is just a piece of cloth. Cloth! He certainly has no problem with the government saying he has to wear clothes in general, since not once have I seen him naked, so his issue with one portion of that clothing is ridiculous,” Iscarwitz said. He also finds Judenstein’s panic over his business hypocritical, noting that his relative would have no reason to fear complications if he complies with the law; according to Iscarwitz, Judenstein himself is the biggest threat to his business’s stability, if he will not wear a Star of David. Iscarwitz remains confident in the government’s commitment to the common good, saying that the government simply needs to know the demographics of its people, and efficiently track them during this unique state of crisis. He said, “It’s like a living census, and nobody denies the state’s right to conduct a census. This is obviously not about oppression in any way."
The larger problem, Iscarwitz says, is that Judenstein and those who share his opinion are too self-centered; they lack a meaningful concern for the affairs of their countrymen. “We’re all in this together, and if wearing a little patch on my shirt is how I help my government and my fellow man get through this struggle, then so be it,” Iscarwitz said, “It’s simply the Reic—excuse me, right thing to do.”