Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fucking Jew

To give my wife some freedom to finish cooking for Shabbos, I took my two year old daughter to the local playground, located in a park less than a block from where I live. As my daughter joyfully headed for the slides, I noticed a group of eight or so teens, two or three girls and the rest boys, on average about 16 or 17 years old, gathered by the park clubhouse. There was nothing remarkable about them, as they stood there chatting and sharing cigarettes. They were dressed in sneakers, baggy jeans, sports team t-shirts, and hoodies, emulating the last “urban” fashions. I paid little attention to them as I watched my daughter trying to walk up the slide, enjoying the last hours of daylight before the beginning of the seventh day. Suddenly I heard one of the male teens say “He’s a fucking Jew!” while pointing at me. He seemed to have said it loud enough for me to hear intentionally. I heard some of the teens giggle.

I wouldn’t say that his statement was born from some brilliant flash of mental deduction. I was dressed in a white shirt, black pants, and black kippah. My tallit katan and its tzitzis flowed freely in the light breeze, as did my untrimmed beard. I would have been one of the unremarkable many, had I been at a playground in Tsfas or Meah Sharim, yet here I stood out, and stood out as a Jew. However, surprisingly, this isn’t obvious to many. I often have people mistake me for Amish, in which case I am often greeted with big smiles, or as Muslim (perhaps based on the beard), in which case I am usually ignored. In all fairness, people are often pleasantly surprised to see a traditional Jew in the middle of California. But “fucking Jew”?

I looked at him and the rest of the group for a few moments. Most of them averted their eyes, although he glared back. Studying the group, I noticed one of the young girls. She was my neighbor’s daughter. I am not close with my neighbors, I don’t even know their names, but the daughter had usually been friendly towards us, giving us a short “hello”, and an occasional smile when she saw us in front of the house. And here she was, not saying anything to the young man about his outburst, just blending in with the rest.

I turned away from the group, not wishing to spoil my daughter’s fun. I followed her as she ran to another section of the playground, oblivious to what had taken place. While I physically left the group of teens behind me, they stayed with me mentally. “Fucking Jew”? To an MTV generation that has been spoon-fed cultural sensitivity and understanding, and brought up singing multi-lingual versions of “Kumbayah”, I am just a fucking Jew? When the bearded, black hatted image of Matisyahu dancing to a groove flashes on their screens, do they even make the connection? When my neighbor smiles and says hello, is she really just thinking “fucking Jew”? I teach an English class, with students ranging from teens to people in their 50’s. I enjoy interacting with my students, who are from the same socioeconomic and cultural group as the teens in the park. We have a good time in class, filling it with fun and laughter. Yet now I wonder. When class is over, am I just a fucking Jew? When I have to give someone a D or even an F, do they take a moment to think about their performance, or do they just blame the fucking Jew?

My daughter and I return home to a home filled with the delightful smells of Shabbos. I shower, washing off the spirit the mundane, and dress in my Shabbos clothes. Candles are lit, angels are greeted and sent away, praises are sung to my wife and the Shechina. Testimony proclaiming that G-d created the world in six days, completed it in seven, and took the Jews out of Egypt is given over a cup of wine. As I savor the Shabbos meal, I ponder the events of the day, looking forward to the day were all will be Shabbos. A day where we no longer will be just fucking Jews.

8 Comments:

Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Wow. On the one hand, I feel shock and frustration, on the other hand, I want to say thank G-d, that it wasn't worse... But is this only a sign of changing times?

This whole Mel Gibson thing in the news recently has made me wonder... sure, it's great that everyone is shaming him for his bout of antisemitism, but for all those people who are undecided on how they feel about Jews, or who already dislike Jews, or who hate Jews, it's might just be making them angrier.

If I disliked Jews, and then all I heard on the TV and radio and internet was "Mel Gibson... Jews... Jews... Jews... antisemite..." I would be pretty angry.

Tsfas or Meah Sheariim... suddenly don't seem so far away.

Sun Aug 20, 12:33:00 PM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Oh, and on a positive note, I had two experiences at the end of last week that really gave me hope.

As I was checking a book out from the UCSC library Friday Morning, the librarian said "Gut Shabbos" and that really made me happy.

Also, this sort of weird but very nice religious Christian guy asked me what it said on the back of my helmet because he said he loves Israelis and the lordcheesescrackers etc, and he feels like he's Israeli himself. And anyway, it's always nice to know that we have some supporters out there, even if they're sketchy guys on bikes who hang out by the Boardwalk. It says "I love Israel," in Hebrew, btw.

Sun Aug 20, 12:39:00 PM 2006  
Blogger JewSlug said...

Very powerful post Fedora. I hope your daughter didn't hear him say that awful phrase.

It seems to be a law that anybody who would normally be respectful towards Jews will instead idly stand by while the Jewish man gets harrassed and beaten, refusing to do anything about it.

Mon Aug 21, 04:23:00 AM 2006  
Blogger gogalucky said...

this is so sad..

i can only guess that the kids had some kind of inside joke, that maybe one of them was jewish, that "fucking jew" is just a phrase they throw around without any connection to the jewish people, because i really don't see a lot of hands down blatantly obvious anti-semitism in california...

then again, it's possible that i'm just hoping for something better than the reality of the situation.

and then again what does it matter either way. they shouldn't say that. :)

Mon Aug 21, 10:09:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its time for a Jewish militia in santa cruz...

Wed Aug 23, 12:27:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

Gogalucky:

I think your attitude is a wonderful example of finding merit and good in any person, almost regardless of what they have done. This is a true sign of a beautiful Neshama.

anonymous:

I don't think that something like that is needed...at least for the moment...

Wed Aug 23, 01:26:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Izzy said...

Welcome to the real world.


But, look on the bright side. In Russia, they would have said "Look at the f**king pig!"

You look Jewish, and they recognize it.

Thu Aug 24, 04:36:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

Thanks for the welcome izzy!

I should add that this is nothing new, neither for Jews or for myself. I have had people yell that I should die, that I will burn in hell, that we Jews are murderers for what goes on in Israel, and so on. Even this past week, while on a road trip with a friend who is as frum as I am, someone yelled "Christ Killers!!" at us while we were taking a rest at the beach...and learning Torah, no less!

There was just something in the situation I wrote about on this blog that somehow made me want to write about it. It is nothing special, and thank G-d it was nothing compared to what others have gone through.

Sun Aug 27, 06:04:00 PM 2006  

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