April 19, 2019

The Plight of the Orthodox Jew

“I’m a black Jew. Despite my Caucasian coloring.

My skin color is what people call white. But the felt fedora I wear in public is black, as are my shoes and, more often than not, my suit.

That clarification isn’t meant as a punchline. Despite my skin color, I experience something of what America’s minorities of color experience. I am perceived with suspicion by many, am often on the receiving end of sidelong glances and, occasionally, outright insults. I’ve had pennies thrown at my feet from a car while waiting at a bus stop and, on public transportation, been greeted with a hail of “Heil Hitlers.”

Orthodox Jews of all color skin have, in a number of places, also been targets of some local politicians’ venting of their inner bigots.

In a recent social media posting on the Rockland County (NY) Republican party’s official page, its leader, Lawrence Garvey, called Orthodoxy “the most egregious example of women’s oppression in our entire country,” falsely claiming, inter alia odiosa, that Orthodox women are forced into arranged marriages and aren’t properly educated.”

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