bacon and eggs

Another Jew, Actually

Here is an odd little story from about 40 years ago… that came to mind recently. It seems more relevant now than it was then, and I present it in the middle of the Christmas-Hannukah muddle.

After camping alone in New Hampshire on a long weekend, I stopped for lunch on the way home. 

It was a friendly restaurant, not fancy, what you might call a family place.

Sitting at the next booth was a family of mother, father, and two little kids. The father was facing my way.

At some point a rather loud and boisterous group came into the restaurant, which I would guess most people noticed; I noticed.

The father facing me said to his wife, quietly but clearly, “Jews”.

I glanced again at the newcomers and guess that in terms of accuracy, the fellow was probably right; they probably were a group of happy, exuberant young Jewish people.

I sat there pondering all of this.

Clearly, the Jew-hater did know realize that the outdoorsy fellow, me, in the next booth was also Jewish.

A piece of me wanted to mention to him that there are more Jews than he knows about.

A piece of me was somewhat mortified that the boisterous ones had fulfilled his stereotype of Jews.

In the end I said nothing and just drove home with that lingering sense of dread that comes from knowing there are people out there who hate me and who are teaching their children to hate me.

Today we are in a time when many people are being encouraged to embrace their prejudices and flaunt them.

I wonder how my NH father took to Trump having an orthodox son-in-law in the White House.

I wonder if his two kids grew up to be Jew haters, like Daddy.

I wonder if there was some better way I could have handled that moment, to possibly open that man to another view about Jews.

But it’s 40 years later and a different era.

And why the bacon and eggs visual? Because it’s as likely as not that I was having something distinctly non-Kosher for lunch, which was how I was raised; as far from observant as a Jew can be raised.