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Op-Ed Response: Enough with the Real Racism

In response to this op-ed published earlier this week on on racism in Chabad, one community member responds that the only true racism is not holding up our African-American neighbors to the same standards as everyone else.

by Gil Finner

Many of us aren’t racist, we’re just genuinely influenced by our experiences. I live in a section of Crown-Heights that is predominantly black. As a Jew living in a predominantly black area I’m subjected to dehumanizing treatment in various forms.

The average person reading this article wouldn’t relate if I told them how often people spit in my direction as I walk down the street. They wouldn’t relate if I told them what ridiculous and random complaints, objections, and angry reprisals our neighbors have against us regarding activities that most civilized citizens consider usual daily conduct. Many of us would however relate to the unwelcome – and grossly disrespectful – sexual innuendos that women – and young teenagers – are made to endure on a random stroll down the street.

If I filed a complaint after every incident that happened I would have to give up my day job. As many of us know, the average response time in this community for non-violent crimes is approximately eternity. I recently reported a violent crime perpetrated against my family and the wait time exceeded two hours. It’s utterly ridiculous!

Essentially, criminals do the crime, and we do the time – waiting for the police to arrive.

Just imagine how many people are dissuaded from reporting crime because they don’t want to wait two hours, and what effect this has on crime in our community.

My experiences make me believe that our neighbors understand that we’re not aggressive and therefore make for a good scapegoat. If I’m not mistaking, this has been the case throughout all of history, and it’s no different now.

The irony of it all is that somehow, they have complaints against us. But then again, people always had complaints against us, including during the black plague. At the time, Jews were blamed for poisoning wells. No one is perfect, but to pretend (for the sake of political correctness) that our imperfections comprise even a remote semblance of justification for the misbehaviors we endure is utterly ludicrous.

Everyone knows, if someone Jewish dared to treat a black person the way many – yes many – black people treat random Jewish people in the street, all hell would have broken loose.

I know some phenomenal people in the black community, but to portray them as the majority is a tremendous disservice to our community because it says that we’re content with the status quo. I certainly am not. And to portray the status quo as acceptable is racist. It says that we accept a clearly subpar standard from our neighbors.

Let’s stop being racists. Let’s embrace our neighbors as perfectly capable citizens who are capable of living up to the standards expected of citizens in every other multi-cultural community in this country.


  • 1. Jackie wrote:

    CHInfo should take this down. It is full of ignorance, hate and bigotry. Honestly what is wrong with this community. The Rebbe spoke of a time when we would not need to preface our discussions by saying a black person or a brown person because we are all created by G-d. What have we become?
    What are we teaching our children? The strength of this community lies in our shared devotion to our creator and to universal principles of equality and respect for all people. IT is embarrassing that this need be said but what message are we sending to the black members of our faith?

    • 2. Berel wrote:

      Black Jews are as Jewish as any other Jews. They are not members of the Black community, they are Jews. They are members of the Jewish community.

      I’ll repeat that: Jews with black skin are Jews not blacks.

      It is racists like YOU and the self-identified black community (who most certainly don’t count Jews with black skin among them) who insist on grouping people by skin color.

      MLK had a color blind dream, but racist Malcom X was about black power and the latter won out and MLK and Frederick Douglass are rolling in their graves.

      There is nothing in this op-ed that implies that the bad behavior of a disturbingly large subset of the black community in Crown Heights has anything to do with pigment melanin. It’s everything to do with shared culture and value system. We aren’t talking about root causes but cold hard mathematical facts.

      You have addressed nothing of what this op-ed said, your entire response is nothing save for a tantrum to the effect of “Shut up because Shut Up.”

      No, you.

    • 3. Drei'kop wrote:

      I don’t know you not know where you live. However above and beyond your quotes from the Rebbe. Your sensitivity to another yid (which comes before anyone else) is extremely disgusting. I fully agree with the writer of this Op-Ed. I live on Saint Johns. I have amazing African American neighbors. But I decently can relate to the writer.

      Please be more thoughtful to your brethren.

    • 4. Milhouse wrote:

      The Rebbe spoke of a time when we would not need to preface our discussions by saying a black person or a brown person because we are all created by G-d.

      Did he? When and where?

      our shared devotion to our creator and to universal principles of equality

      The Torah rejects “universal principles of equality”. If you’re looking for a universalist religion you know where to find Xianity.

    • 5. Not afraid to say it like it is. wrote:

      That’s exactly the point. As long as some black people go around acting like idiots with their pants falling down, vulgarity spewing from their mouth and violence in their hands, we have a problem. A big problem.
      I don’t care what color you are. I care only how you act. Act like a wild animal and you belong in a cage.
      You are a white gangster, you belong in jail.
      A violent Asian? You belong in jail.
      A black mugger, you belong in jail too.
      Drop the race card.
      Your color, county of origin and religion don’t make you good or bad.
      Many back inner city kids have pulled themselves out of the muck of their public housing projects and made a new honorable life for themselves.
      Many white rich kids have turned to lives of drugs and violence.
      It’s your choice.
      Choosing to disregard the law of the land is what makes you a criminal.!

  • 7. The kangeroo wrote:

    How about everybody should live according to rule. do not do to others that,you do not want others to do to you.Everybody is responsible for his own behaviour,This way we will avoid all the hate and the terror in te name of religion.

  • 8. Jackie wrote:

    Dear drei kop,
    For all you know your amazing neighbors are Caribbean so the term African American may not apply to them.
    I don’t see what is ‘extremely disgusting about what I said so please elaborate, in full sentences if possible

  • 9. Jackie wrote:

    To Berel
    Perhaps allow black Jews to define what community they do or do not see themselves a part of.
    As for your conclusory statement about “large subsets” of the black community goes, you have outed yourself as a racist. I doubt, however, you consider that an insult.

    • 10. chaim wrote:

      I will not speak to his racism levels but I will say that stating facts even if they make a particular group look bad is just stating facts it is not racist to do, it is informative.
      look at the stats of violent and petty crimes in 11225 and 11217 and you will see a 98% rate of black people. thats not racist, and i am not racist some of my best friends are black…

      for Purim.

  • 11. VERY WELL SAID wrote:

    The writer expressed very eloquently what we need to remember. It has nothing to do with racism when we experience negative situations.

  • 12. Scales of Justice wrote:

    If we emptied out a bag of all the malicious hateful acts motivated by discrimination in Crown Heights in the past 40 years on a table…(riots, knock out attacks, school bus burnings). , and labeled those acts as originating from Jew or non-Jews, and then placed the acts on the scales of justice, I know which scale would be uneven to hold its weight.

    I agree with the writer in that Political Correctness, says that prejudice against Jews is not included in the left-wing anti-racism platform. Shutting down Zionist speakers at college campuses are a fine example. And to those who wish to discount the anti-Semitism by alluding to it merely being about Israel, I ask why is there so little attention paid to the plight of the Kurds, or the Yazidi, or Greek Cypriots in comparison to Palestinians.

    So while progressive politicians like NYS Senator Jessie Hamilton, on April 10, 2017, helped raised the AGE OF RESPONSIBILITY in New York to 18 yrs of age, so that now 16 or 17 year old thugs won’t go to jail for lets say knock out attacks against Jews, I feel pleased that some real Yids realize that Political Correctness should not exempt anyone from prejudice no matter what happened to one’s ancestors.

  • 13. Thank you Gil finner!! wrote:

    Thanks you for so eloquently pointing out REAL racism happening in our community.

    No community is perfect, but any infraction someone can point out about the Jewish community, is kid stuff in comparison to what the Jews have suffered from the blacks over all these years.

    This is not a justification or an excuse for prejudiced that does exists in the Jewish community.

    This is just calling a spade a spade!

    BTW over the yrs i have noticed many times blacks spitting in my direction as i walk by.
    always thought it was just a coincident. now i know its a pattern of behavior by racist blacks!

  • 14. Anonymous wrote:

    The rebbe made the above mentioned
    Statement to David dinkins. It’s available if you search

  • 15. Ch mom wrote:

    The rebbe spoke of NYC as a melting pot. He described how unfortunate it was that we had to “underline” a persons color or race since we were all made from the same creator to bring good. The rebbe said this directly to David Dinkins.

  • 18. To Millhouse wrote:

    I don’t agree with Jackie, but in regards to his or her claim “The Rebbe spoke of a time when we would not need to preface our discussions by saying a black person or a brown person because we are all created by G-d,” this is a real quote, though not verbatim. I don’t believe the Rebbe said brown, but he did say a second term from what I remember. I’m nearly 100% certain I saw a video of it, and if I find it (or other source) I will post a link here.

  • 20. Number 25 thank u wrote:

    To number 1.

    The op-ed response which was Briliantly articulated went right over your head. But then again understanding the authors point would take a reasonably intelligent mind.

    • 21. Berel wrote:

      There’s a need to be nice here. Jackie is a Jewess. And she’s on a Chabad website. I’ve little actual experience with people of the left, but when I see them speak on forums so close to home, like on our community website comment threads, they seem like cultists. I believe she called me double plus ungood for pointing out a statistic.

      We need to have rachmonus.

      My heart breaks for these Jews, it’s a very difficult intellectual environment out there now, eerily akin to a kind of mass hysteria. You cannot be a person in good social standing in many high-end places without being a card carrying cult member.

      Say the wrong thing and merely being shunned by your peers or workmates would be a best case scenario.

      Very sad, we need to find a way to reach out to these people and teach them Torah and make them feel safe among their own.

  • 22. To Berel wrote:

    Agreed, it is a kind of mass hysteria. Heard on the news this morning that a 90-year old mosaic is being removed in the Times Square subway station because it may “resemble” a confederate flag.

    As far as Jackie and those like her, say one word that is not to their liking, not in line with their tender sensibilities and you’re branded a racist and a fascist, an evil incarnate! My comment about the mosaic probably makes me a racist too…

  • 23. shlomo wrote:

    Totally agree, but as always Jewish is guilty
    Why? just because of we a coward, so coward that even can choose leaders. all CH leaders are just cowardly creatures that strive to lie under our neighbors. Why they always ask us to vote for black politicians?(just look for ex for today news ) we all knew exactly that they take care only about people of they color. someone ever se jewish postman in CH? some Jewish in DMV ? in any city place, why so many of them even illegally get free colleges, even stipend and for us? recently spoke with one ukrainian young lady with refugee status from ukraine. so it’s only white in a class and only one that pays for her study. all others not pay and get a stipend from our taxes. why have illegal immigrant from west-india preference on Jewish, born here? it can’t be a long list, but obviously we need start from ourself. and first things close CH JCC. they useless. it not so long ride to UJO on the Pen street, and they really help if you need. just compare achievements.
    p.s I have a friend Haitian MD every time that something weird happened he always reaction “it not our people! it’s people that born here”…. so m.b we need elect people that can find an answer to this question too

  • 24. Anonymous wrote:

    The Rebbe would not approve of racist remarks from the community. We all know that. He reached out to many many people of color including children who as adults speak of him with respect and admiration.
    It has nothing to do with politics. Would you dare to say to the Rebbe the racists things you write here? If you are honest with yourself you know the answer

    • 25. Chossid wrote:

      Please cite an example of “the racist things you write here” (on this thread) and, while your at it, please define “racism” for all of us. Thank you and Shabbat Shalom.

  • 26. right and blind wrote:

    this might be true (in your location), still doesn’t make racism acceptable.

  • 27. Labor Day Parade; 50 Years !!!! wrote:

    When are they removing the medians on Eastern pky? This parade keeps our community on lock down,,


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