When I found out that an old friend from my former Jewish Haredi community had participated in a violent coup to overthrow the government, I felt pain, anger and despair. But I didn’t feel surprised.
For the last five years, I’ve looked on in horror as more and more people from that community have been sucked into the cult of Trumpism. From embracing the tenets of white nationalism to the beatings of two Haredi whistleblowers instigated by the Haredi world’s own little Trump, Heshy Tischler, Trumpism has become an infection within the world I once called home.
That infection was raging on Jan. 6, when my friend, who I’m not naming here because the only attention he deserves is from the FBI, joined buses full of Orthodox Jews from New York—including Aaron Mostofsky, the young man in the animal pelt costume seen taking a police officer’s shield and who was arrested days later—to join the neo-Nazis, QAnon conspiracists, and white nationalists at the day’s protests that became a riot. My friend had always struck me as quiet and shy. Not the kind of person who would attend any sort of political protest, let alone an armed insurrection.