Yesterday, my tichel clad wife took our son to the park. Even though it was about 5 or 6 pm-ish, there was a fair amount of kids still running around. My son began to play with a little boy, who was not Jewish, black and about a year older than he is. My wife usually begins to chat up the mom of a kid my son suddenly becomes friendly with, so they began to schmooze. She was very friendly and the kids were having a lot of fun playing together. The park was full of mostly Jewish kids and after my wife and the other mom parted ways, something happened.
She (my wife) began to get the dirtiest looks from every single Jewish mom in the park. After a few minuted of this, the general unspoken consensus within the playground was “How could you possibly let your child play with one of them.”
What on earth is wrong with two toddlers playing together? If you want to play the whole “bad influence” card, don’t even go there. These kids are way to young to be influencing each other in any way shape or form. And even if bad influence was a factor, these naysayers had no idea what the kids were doing. Why does being black constitute the automatic assumption of being a bad influence? This display of disapproval was pure racism and nothing more.
I don’t think this reaction was primarily racism but primarily values.
Orthodox Jewish parents want to raise their children in a sheltered Orthodox environment. Most Orthodox parents do not want their young children to have non-Orthodox friends and non-Jewish friends.
You raise your kids in a cocoon and grow them up to be strongly rooted in their tradition and then let them free to fly like butterflies, but first you have to protect them when they are young.
I don’t have a problem with an Orthodox parent allowing his kids to play with non-Jews and I don’t have a problem with Orthodox parents who look askance at this. I think they are two valid perspectives. The only thing I have a problem with is this writer who automatically assumes that the disapproval is racist.