On Christmas Eve, after the minyan, where I said Kaddish for my grandmother, I went home to La Canada Flintridge and stopped at a sporting goods store. The checkout line was long.
While I waited, an angry woman stood behind me, talking on her cell phone. She complained (into the cell phone) that her father had given money to a woman named Susan. "I'm his daughter and he put HER on the deed to the house..."
She was clearly very angry. But I almost lost it when she related (into the cell phone) her confrontation with her father’s friend. Susan explained that the father had insisted on giving her money. The angry woman related her insult to Susan: "SO I TOLD SUSAN, YOU ARE ACTING LIKE A JEW!"
I turned and stared at the woman with the cell phone. She glared at me. She was clearly very angry. I glared back. I thought about interrupting her conversation, but I decided not to.
I had just written a nice soft Chanukah column for the local (not demographically Jewish) newspaper The candle throws its beams. I felt both vulnerable because it was my grandmother’s yahrzeit, and connected to Kal Yisrael, it being Chanukah, after all, as it always is on my grandmother’s yahrzeit.
But I wanted to confront her, to say, "&^%$@$#, my cousins who served in wartime, and my husband and son were in the Marine Corps, just to protect your right to free speech."
But I didn’t.
Interesting that what came into my head was that we are Americans too.
Granted, she was bigger than me, and younger and probably a psycho. If I had confronted her, would I have been lighting the wrong kind of candle? Or would it have been a never again kind of line in the sand that needed to be drawn, particularly since Chanukah in the Diaspora is not just about the Maccabees or my grandmother’s yahrzeit.
Chanukah in America also addresses important issues of identity (See video below).
What would you do?
Shlomo Klein suffers a strange case of mistaken identity in 'Ho Ho Ho Chanukah' -- from Jewlarious.com
Anita Brenner is an attorney in Pasadena with a bad attitude and a good record
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