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Friday, October 24, 2003

Boker tov, yidden!

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish Email of the Day
"At Cambridge University, where I attended law school in England, the Jews exist in a state of perpetual vigilance and, often, fear of personal harm. As an American Jew I was used to wearing a kipa (yarmulke, beanie, skullcap, bowl-o'-soup, whatever) walking around town. Wearing a kipa in public anywhere is mentally exhausting; one is always conscious of people watching you, treating you like a stranger, making jokes as soon as they think you are out of earshot. Even in New York, where Jews of all kinds are everywhere, you feel people look at you and treating you differently than, for instance, if you wear a baseball hat.

But in Cambridge it was like I had a bullseye on my head. Not a week went by that something didn't happen - curses from a group of Middle-Eastern looking "blokes" on the street, laughing references about the "cross you have to bear" from other students, white hot abuse about being a "Zionist Nazi" from a middle-aged white woman boycotting Sainsbury's. Once, memorably, I got hit with a piece of raw potato and turned just in time to hear the sniggers of "shalom!" as the window of a restaurant kitchen banged shut.

At first I thought it must just be the townies, local "yobs" who resent the privileged, snooty University students and would often try to make themselves as unpleasant as possible. But, as more and more of these little happenings piled up, it became clear that Jew harrassment was one of the few entertainments in Cambridge that was not defined by class or educational background. When I discussed this with my friends in the Jewish Society (JSOC), they were completely nonchalant. I was stunned to hear that every single one had, at one time or another in their youth, been chased, threatened or beaten for being Jewish in the towns where they grew up. In one memorable case, a kid had been stabbed with a butcher knife, when he was 15 years old, by a man on a bus in Manchester."

Cal kippot