We’ve all laughed but what was once a harmless joke it’s just not funny any longer. Today with the explosion of social media, there’s really no such thing as a ‘private’ joke. Nothing is private and a joke is no longer just innocent. Sadly it’s not us but the times we live in. A cute or semi insulting picture or WhatsApp post often finds its way onto social media and is immediately misconstrued as frum Jews being racist, xenophobic or worse. The unthinking actions of one individual, cause many of us to shake our heads & hide in shame. We can & must do better. It’s no longer just a “Frum” thing. By now we really should understand that every action, big or small, has a potential reaction. A harmless prank or an insensitive costume on Purim, once no big deal, can have serious repercussions for our broader community putting Jews in harm’s way. We’ve seen it all too often. Don’t take my word for it, ask former Assemblyman Dov Hikind who meant no harm a few years ago when he dressed up harmlessly as an NBA basketball player. No longer is a private joke just a joke. Social media has changed all that. Nothing is private if it’s posted on twitter, whatsapp, Instagram or Facebook etc… The secular media has hungry reporters and individuals looking for negative stories to post about us. There’s no shortage unfortunately. Don’t become the story. Think how the outside world will view your fake dreadlocks or your Purim turban. Think.
I particularly point to the centuries old custom of hanging an effigy of Haman. Today unfortunately we are living in a time of unprecedented antisemitism. Jews know how it feels to be singled out for harassment & hate. Be it a bomb threat, knockout attacks or swastikas, we understand hatred and we understand intolerance. But we don’t have a monopoly on that feeling. Other communities particularly minorities, suffer discrimination too. They, like us, know how it feels to be targeted and we need to be sensitive to that reality. This year Coronavirus virus is dominating the news. It is inescapable. We all know that the world is on edge and millions of people are being seriously effected by the virus across the globe. Dressing up or lampooning, the current crisis might make for a good laugh but outside of your selfish Purim bubble there’s simply nothing remotely humorous about a virus that has killed infected people & brought the world economy to its knees. Think.
Outsiders don’t understand the harmless symbolism of the hanging Haman, the hazmat suit or a face mask. More hurtful possibly is wearing a costume or mask depicting asians. It’s just not funny in the current environment. It is cruel. Think how outsiders will view you. If it doesn’t pass the smell test, it likely stinks. The world has its own interpretations of us and it is not far fetched to see our harmless purim fun misconstrued in a very sinister way.
Think about how your actions will be viewed. Think.
Look, I love Purim and I absolutely hate political correctness but we are in galus and must be sensitive to the world around us. Double parking, public drunkenness, and bad behavior is something normal people can all agree is not appropriate, even on Purim. We have neighbors, Jews and non- Jews alike, who need to considered before vomiting on their lawn or blocking their driveway. It’s just not cool or Jewish to run around all night screaming at the top of your lungs disturbing sleeping neighbors. Please by all means go out, wash your hands, collect tzedokah and have a blast but remember who and where you are. Enjoy your private party but try to keep it private. Let’s enjoy the concept of live and let live by not blaring loud music that disturbs everyone. It’s Purim not mardi-gras and this year lets be extra sensitive to the larger Coronavirus situation. It’s not a joke. Many of your gentile neighbors don’t understand how such special people could behave so un-special. Show some humanity from those you expect the same from every other day of the week. Think about it.
Now I know what your thinking, who does this guy think he is? I’m you and you are me. We are both trying to live our lives peacefully in galus as religious Jews. Don’t look for reasons to criticize this article or the writer, instead find reasons to embrace the opportunity to make a Kiddush Hashem. So to review, if you think dressing up as a member of a minority is a clever idea, think again- it’s not. If you feel like hanging up an effigy of Haman in dread locks, please reconsider the broad ramifications of your actions. Resist the urge to do anything associated with Coronavirus. Giving haters & anti semites the opportunity to accuse us of being racist is preventable if you just think. We are lucky to live in America and this land provides us the incredible right to practice our religion how we wish. But nobody has the right to act in a way that insults, disturbs or demeans anyone. We are a great people, let’s try to act like it. Just think. Have a happy and safe Purim.
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