So I have been thinking about this post all weekend. Been wanting to write about what I witnessed here at the Embassy Suites in Piscataway. Just not sure how to say it…
On Friday our normally quiet, business friendly hotel turned into the meeting ground for several groups. About 100 orthodox Jews observing Sabbath, the annual gala for a group composed of senior women, and the host to many predominately teenage girl parties and bachelorette outtings. The hotel was sold out.
There were Jewish men walking around in their black coats and prayer shawls with their impressive shtreimel on their heads. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shtreimel The beautiful wigged women were taking care of many children while the kids ran around the hotel in their stockinged feet, boys with shaved heads and curls over their ears. The kids were quiet and respectful, but they were everywhere.
Because they were observing Sabbath, they were not allowed to do any work or use anything that required electricity or power. Let me break that down. They could not go in and out of their rooms that were locked because the locks are electrical. So they taped the lock so it wouldn’t lock and left the doors open. If they dropped food or trash, they didn’t pick it up. They also did not flush toilets and requested that the staff come around and flush for them.
The men stood around on the open atrium and read the Torah as the women sat with the children and taught them.
They brought in all of their own food to be sure it was Kosher.
That being said….the children had so much fun and not bothering anyone. They kept to themselves, expect for Hiram, who was almost two, and was obsessed with Eli and vice versa.
But the Golden Girls didn’t like it. They complained. Wanted them gone. They didn’t like the fact that the Jews were sitting in the atrium lobby talking and laughing. They didn’t like the kids running around and making messes.
We talked to the president of the group and she let us know that she wasn’t happy. Our kids didn’t bother her, but the Jewish kids did.
Then there were the groups of jersey culture kids (think Snooki) running around the atrium in bikini tops and towels. They didn’t seem to have much parental control. They were here to party and the Jews and Golden Girls weren’t going to stop them.
I even saw a young guy walking in with jello shots.
And here is what struck me over and over. Each of these groups have been historically hated and discriminated against. The Jews have been persecuted since Egyptian days. They have a bad reputation and are many times misunderstood.
The Golden Girls were old and without giving away what group they were representing, they are sometimes misrepresented in the media and their loved ones treated poorly,
The birthday kids and bachelorettes were predominately African-American. They are possibly the most discriminated people in America.
The three DIFFERENT groups all treated each other with disdain. Without acceptance. NO tolerance.
Why? Because they each did not fit in to a mold that is deemed acceptable to them.
It seems to me, that groups that are discriminated against should also love and show respect to other groups that have felt racism and bigotry.
I would think they would stick together. That they would understand how hard it is to be part of a minority group.
But I didn’t see that. And it made me sad and wonder, what is going on?
New Jersey is a melting pot. I have met so many different types of people just since living here. People that I never would have had a chance to talk to if I was still living and raising my kids in Kentucky.
So how do we change? How do we become more tolerant?
A saying that we quote over and over to our kids is this…
“DIFFERENT ISN’T WRONG, IT’S JUST DIFFERENT”
The people this weekend? They are different. They didn’t look like our family and they didn’t eat the same foods or wear clothing like we do.
But they aren’t wrong. Their just different.
And if everyone could just remember that and accept that idea, this world would be a little bit closer to peace.
I sat down with one of the Moms on Friday night. She was waiting to go to her room and light the candles for the start of Sabbath. She had four daughters, the oldest was 5 and she hoped to have 8 or 10 kids. She said being a Jewish woman was hard. It was much easier to be a man. I felt for this woman. I immediately liked her and felt that she liked me. She had never met anyone from Kentucky, so she learned a few things from me.
It was fun. My Sarah helped her little Esther open a popsicle and her little girl Leah shared her popcorn with Eli.
There was no animosity between us. Just acceptance and a genuine interest in each other’s lifestyle.
I don’t ever want to be afraid or too stuck in my world to notice differences around me. To realize that God created every man unique yet in HIS image.
We are commanded to love one another. Not just the ones that sound and look like me. But OTHERS.
And up here in Jersey, we are striving to do that one week at a time on our crazy Nopad/Nomad adventure.