And you, Rabbi, have a beanie in every colour
A couple of uncomfortable chuckles. Then the conversation moved to the next topic. Hawaiian shirts, I think. Maybe. I don’t really know because I was still stuck on the beanie comment.
I wasn’t the only Jew in the room. There were a couple of others. Through down-case eyes, we exchanged uncomfortable glances. And we said nothing.
We said nothing because no one wanted to make anyone else feel uncomfortable. We said nothing because no one wanted to make a big deal out of a throw-away comment. We said nothing because at the end of the day…it is sometimes just easier to say nothing. Because to say something might uncover an undercurrent that continues to run through polite society.
The undercurrent. That’s what it is. Anti-Semitism.
Aw, Rabbi, lighten up. He didn’t mean anything by it.
Anti-Semitism doesn’t have to be violent. Or physical. It doesn’t necessarily have to be intentional. By definition, anti-Semitism is simply the hostility toward or prejudice against Jews. In its worst form, it becomes policy. In its more subtle, though no less destructive, form, it is attitude. A one-time comment may be, in fact, just a one-time comment. Today’s comment was one of several pointed Jewish remarks, comments, etc in a space of twenty-five minutes.
Not a one-time, throw-away comment.
I am ashamed that I did not speak up. Or speak out. Or…. or what, I don’t know. But I
feel know that doing nothing was wrong.
I am ashamed of my fear. Of my hesitation.
I am ashamed of failing the title bestowed upon me at my Sinai moment, as a leader and teacher of our community.