I’m sitting in my car as I write this…
I just experienced some “mild” antisemitism in person, and I’m a bit shaken/embarrassed that I didn’t say anything in response to it.
I was standing in line at the post office, and a friendly stranger and I got to talking as we waited. I told her I was mailing an Amazon order, and explained that I sell used books and movies in order to build my savings.
She told me that her father had just passed away, and that she wasn’t sure what to do with the huge collection of books that she had inherited from him. l told her that if these books were worth money, she could turn Amazon sales into a nice side-hustle. (Edit: I then went into some length about being an Amazon seller, since she seemed interested in learning how to sell merchandise online.)
“If I was a Jew, I would probably do that,” she laughed. Then she gestured to my mask (which had Hebrew text on it) and my necklace (engraved with ברכת כהנים) and said, “I’m not saying that to offend you, but you know what I mean…”
I was a bit stunned, but smiled and continued the conversation. I was too shocked (and, frankly, surprised by her boldness) to call her out. This otherwise-friendly person not only expressed an antisemitic stereotype, but did so in front of a Jew and then indicated to said Jew that she knew she was being inappropriate.
I clutched my necklace repeatedly until I reached the counter, feeling nervous. As I walked to my car, I wondered how I could have handled things differently.
What should I have said? What could I have said? I’m angry with myself about this, and honestly am ashamed of my silence.
I’m friendly. I like to talk. I like to share. I also like to speak my mind. I’m very vocal about online antisemitism, and I’ve even called out antisemites to their faces in the past. But today, for some reason, I didn’t have the courage to do anything about it when it was directed toward me.
It wasn’t violence. It wasn’t a racist slur. It wasn’t a conspiracy theory. Maybe that’s why I let it go.
But I shouldn’t have.
Any suggestions you have are welcome. I mean it.