Tuesday, January 08, 2008

On The Perils Of Wearing a Maccabees Shirt

Determined to do my laundry, I go downstairs only to find that the detergent that had been clearly marked with my name has now disappeared. Saddened, I look longingly at the other bottles of detergent, which are not mine. I cannot explain to you the compulsion that came over me. They'll never miss it, I thought to myself. I'll just take a bit of their detergent, do my laundry, and buy some more later. Otherwise, I would have to go upstairs, get my wallet, and then purchase detergent, which would require walking and more.

Despite letting my hand hover longingly over other people's detergent, I determined that I am not a thief and went upstairs, gathering my wallet and ID. "Where are you going?" inquired my roommate, who noticed I had decided to put on my flip-flops. "To buy detergent," I answered succinctly, and walked out the door.

I strangely passed right by the Duane Reade, and continued walking until I saw a Gristedes. Aha! I thought, and my eyes lit up. I should be able to buy detergent there! This is when I noticed an extremely friendly black man at the street corner. "Mah Shlomech?" he said to me. I was completely astounded. "Thanks for asking!" I said happily, trying to figure out how he even knew I was Jewish. Oh, of course. I was wearing a Yeshiva Maccabees t-shirt. I walked a little closer to him and he smiled at me again. His eyes radiated kindness. "Did you know that God, that is, Jesus, loves you and he died for your sins?" he asked me. I opened my mouth to answer, then shut it again. "You look blown away by that," he continued. I looked up at him again. "Thank you so much for telling me," I said. "I think it's really nice of you to stand on the street corner in order to tell people how much God loves them. I think you're a really nice person." He smiled at me again. "But do you believe it?" he asked. "No, I don't," I said sweetly, "but I think you are very nice!" I looked quizically at the white woman standing beside him. "I am a Messianist," she said fervently, about to begin her speech. I noticed the Walk sign ahead of me. "Excuse me," I said to both of them, while the black man told me where his Church was located, "I have to go, but thanks very much." The black man called after me, "Remember, Jesus loves you!"

So I have now officially experienced New York. Don't worry, it gets better...

I'm in Gristedes, in the line to purchase detergent. One Asian woman ahead of us (in the Express line) has forgotten an item and must go find it. "There's always one of them," a man drawls behind me. Surreptitiously, I turn a little, thinking that maybe I can brighten his mood. I turn back again, having thought better of it. "I like your shirt!" he says suddenly. I turn to face him and he is nodding, having pulled out a golden Magen David he wears on a chain around his neck. "My last name is Cohen," he says pleasantly, pointing to the Magen David. I swear I wanted to say "Jew Power!" but thought that would be slightly inappropriate. "My last name is ________," I told him, laughing a little. We waited in line, and I offered to let him go before me. He said that was very nice of me, but declined. I said goodbye to him before I left and he called after me "Take care!" with a tinge of a Brooklyn accent.

And this is what happens when you wear a Maccabees t-shirt in New York City.

5 comments:

MS said...

Girls tend to have it easier than boys, I think; we don't have the kippas to give us away. My brother once spent an entire subway ride being verbally abused (no, not just proselytized) by a missionary. He was only about six at the time.

But the nice stories make up for a lot of it :-)

daniel-saunders said...

I was going to say more or less what ms said. Wearing a kippa, all kinds of things have happened to me from the expected (antisemtic abuse, Christian and Muslim missionaries) to the more bizarre e.g. a Sikh gentleman came up to me in a shop and asked me to explain kashrut, and last year someone with a thick Eastern European accent and very little English stopped me in the street and asked me to explain what Judaism is and how it differs from Chrisitianity. You try explaining Judaism "on one leg" to someone who barely speaks the same language as you, standing outside in the cold when you are hurrying home for Shabbat...

Stubborn and Strong said...

I didn't notice that u are going by putting your own flip flop (by the way that is not flip flop, it is flat round hot pink shoes with black laces on it.) I notice that u are leaving because ur hair is so beautiful (bc u just blown your hair) and wearing long beautiful earring so therefore i asked you where are u going?

Yah!! I heard this story before u blog to the entire world. I feel so special!!! That is huge bonus to be roommate with famous Chana.

Chai18 said...

public signs of judaism are strange, in high school i was on the debate team and we were in a public school and i was getting more stairs for my kippah, which was about 10 inches of cloth on the top of my head then the opposing team of sikhs with their 10 feet of cloth turbans. who knew kippahs were so interesting?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I swear I wanted to say "Jew Power!"

Perhaps what he was trying to say was “Hey--I’m Jewish, too.” What he really intended by “Um … uh … Shalom,” was: “I embrace you, my brother, member of my tribe from a faraway place. We share something tremendous and indescribable, something ancient and exalted, something wonderful and mysterious. We were soldered together, you and I, by the fires of hell on earth, and our bonds are since unsunderable. I’m glad you are in the world, and it gives me strength and pleasure to see you. Here: Have some genuine affection.” "

:-)