Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Afterschool Special: Fighting Ignorance

Yesterday, while dropping off my cousin, his 13 year old sister was complaining about a summer job. Her parents had already yelled at her several times. I was having a farewell cup of tea across from her at the kitchen table. After every minute, she dug herself deeper about not doing this summer job. Then she whipped out this final complaint, "He won't even pay me, he's such a Jew!" Immediately, her parents yelled at her again.

I felt a lot of things at once. First, I was sad that I was related to someone who could even think, let alone say, something like that. Secondly, I regretted bringing a present for her since I just spent an entire day with her brother. Thirdly, I made a choice. I would be offended and use this as an opportunity to teach.

So I let her know that I am Jewish. I asked her if she had Jewish friends and how would her friends feel if they heard her say something like that? She had no idea what being "such a Jew" meant. So I told her about the history of Jews an money lending. I wound up spending another hour as I chatted with my aunt and uncle about my conversion. It was actually pretty cool! They asked really good questions in front of their kids so I hope that would result in no more anti-Semitic from the cousin.

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