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Man Shouts Anti-Semitic Slurs at Rabbis Walking in Peabody, Massachusetts on Shabbos

The following is a Facebook post by Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman, director at Chabad of Peabody:

HATE IN PEABODY THIS PAST SHABBOS! YES, I LOOK JEWISH AND I AM PROUD OF IT. SORRY IF THAT BOTHERS YOU!

This past Shabbos (Saturday afternoon) my friend and colleague Rabbi Sruli Baron (of Tobin Bridge Chabad) and I were taking a Shabbos stroll on the way to the beautiful Peabody bike path. To walk this way, we had to walk for a short bit on Lowell St.

Walking and chatting while visibility Jewish was apparently too much for a bunch of pickup truck drivers. There were 3 or 4 large pickups, one with red hubcaps, and modified mufflers to sound really loud that drove by us as we walked. The driver of the first truck slowed down and flipped us the birdie and yelled out “[EXPLETIVE REMOVED] Jews.”

A moment later, he throws a penny out of his window and shouted another anti-Semitic slur something to the effect of “go pick up the penny [EXPLETIVE REMOVED] Jew.”

Now, I am not unaccustomed to people yelling things to me from the safety of a driving vehicle that I cannot catch up to. However, the angry and hateful vitriolic tenor was new and quite upsetting.

My kids, have often shuddered when we walk the streets to or from shul and a car drives by (usually with a few silly teens) and yell or whistle at us. Recently, one of my kids said, “tatty, why do they hate us so much?”

I didn’t have a good answer, so I deflected and told him, that they were just a bunch of rowdy kids excited to be driving their own car, so they were just being silly. This Shabbat cat call, was nothing of the sort. This was simple, clear, unvarnished, hate.

My main reason for posting this is to bring awareness to the hate in our community (or at least driving through our streets) and if you know of that caravan of trucks, please report them. We will never again be silent in the face of hate. Never again means NEVER AGAIN! And that can only happen when we stand up to it, announce it, report it, call it out for what it is EVERY SINGLE time we see it.

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Then there is the academic side to it.

Why does this person hate so much? I have never met him. In all likelihood he never met an Orthodox Jew in his life. I’m confident he never did business with them and was ripped off by them to feel the need to promote the trope that Jews are thieves and cheapos?

He didn’t look middle eastern so I am assuming this was not related to the growing anti-Jewish anti-Semitic hate rhetoric starting to invade this country, starting right at the halls of our government and spreading like a cancer into our college campuses and beyond.

So what is it?

My only guess, and that is all it is, is a guess, is the upbringing and training. Children – and later teens and adults – are impressionable. If they are taught that McDonalds is a healthy square meal, in all likelihood they will raise their children that way. If they are taught that rich people are evil or that people of color are dangerous, then they will likely transmit that training to their progeny.

If they are taught (as are little Palestinian children are) that there is a sub-human group of people that are a cancer to society, a blight on the pure human race, for whatever concocted or perceived reason, that will be transmitted to their children.

So, to you Mr. Pickup truck driver… 1. Shame on you. 2. Shame on those who taught you to be a whimp and shriek from the safety of your vehicle with the ability to speed off. Next time you have something to say to me, pull over and say it to my face. I want to see if you are still so brave. 3. I actually don’t hate you, I am mostly sad for you. Mend your ways and I will forgive you. 4. Most importantly, not only for my children’s sake, though that is the main reason for me personally, I am not going to tolerate your disgusting hate without responding. I will announce it to the world every time, and stand up to you. I am not afraid of you.

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It’s Memorial Day today. Our soldiers fought for the right to live in peace and to practice the faith of your choice, and for that I am eternally grateful. I don’t think they fought for people to yell, scare, frighten and promote hate and division.