Jewish student goes undercover in Christian America

A student at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles writes in The Boiling Point student newspaper that she encountered antisemitism from the driver of a car service during a routine conversation.

Eva Suissa, the opinion editor for the paper, says that when people ask her Christian questions — “How was your Christmas?” and so on — she usually just mumbles a few words so the conversation doesn’t go any further.

This year during winter break, she hailed a ride around town from Lyft, a car service like Uber. When the driver engaged in what she thought was casual conversation about Christmas, she decided to mention that she didn’t celebrate Christmas, being an Orthodox Jew.

The driver then started in with comments about how the Jews killed Jesus, how 6 million Jews killed by Hitler during the Holocaust wasn’t even a big number, especially compared to what Hitler would do if he were running America today, and comments like that, reflecting an antisemitic viewpoint, she writes.

Add this incident to the growing list of hate expressed to members of non-Christian and non-white communities since the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency of the US. At least people from the New York Times to student newspapers at small Jewish day schools in Los Angeles are writing about it more than they did before Mr Trump was elected.

Police in Rockville, Maryland, also found hate speech of a more written nature at Richard Montgomery High School earlier this month, Bethesda Beat Magazine reports.

According to Corporal Rick Halverson of the Rockville police, an innocent school staff member walked into a second-floor special ed lab on Valentine’s Day and saw racially charged messages on the whiteboard: “Trump power,” “Slayer,” “we rule,” “we are the best,” “all white,” “white power” “no n***rs.”

These racists and white supremacists, whoever wrote the message, didn’t even know how to spell the N-word, Mr Halverson said.

“We have probably the most diverse population for a school in the county, and one of our primary goals is ensuring a safe and tolerant learning environment for our kids,” the magazine quoted Principal Damon Monteleone as saying. “So any time we see any kind of behavior that might make our kids feel concerned, that is a problem.”

As for Ms Suissa in Los Angeles, she said she spoke with her father about her antisemitic encounter and plans to keep her Jewish faith to herself in the future, especially in casual conversations with random Lyft drivers. She wondered, though, if that meant she wasn’t proud of her faith.

“After some thought, I realized that no, it does not,” she writes. “Pride will be there, regardless of whether you choose to share it with the world. It’s personal, internal. The way you feel on the inside doesn’t have to always mirror what you say on the outside. … For a proud Jew, it might require an incredible amount of discipline to keep quiet when your religion is attacked by an antisemite. But sometimes safety is more important than expressing your opinion.”

Actually, staying safe is always more important than expressing your opinion — if only some white Christians could understand that. For African-Americans, hiding their skin color would be more complicated than just deciding to keep it to themselves.

The Charles E Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville received a call involving a bomb threat just this morning, Montgomery County police said, Joe Zimmerman reports for Bethesda Beat.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.