One Friday evening in Salt Lake, I went with my friend Dalit and her two children to eat at the home of a Jewish family. We had eaten there several times before. It was not a place in which I had a close connection or relationship. It was more of an open house, a Friday evening event, that I went to in order to give Dalit’s kids an experience of community and Shabbat. The host called me over in the midst of the meal and said, “Take a walk with me outside.” “Sure,” I replied. We walked. He was silent. Then he said, “You cannot come back. One of our guests has read on a blog that you are a ‘confessed child molester.’ I know that this is malicious nonsense. We have discussed this before. I tried to explain to her that this was nonsense. But she would not listen. You may never come back to our house.”
I could not quite believe my ears. As I walked back into the house, it was clear that everyone present knew that this conversation was taking place. They all averted their eyes. I had never known the experience of the leper. The falsely accused. The contaminated one.
At that moment people’s eyes bore into my back as if I was?God forbid?a rapist or a child molester. And my heart broke for all who are wrongly rejected and detested by a society filled with fear. I felt the pain of the falsely accused, of all those who die in prison?innocent, with no one to hear their pleas. I felt the pain also of those who are rightly rejected because they present a genuine danger. For, had we grown up in the brutality of their lives, who knows how our souls might have been formed? The pain was so intense that I fell on my bed unable to move for most of the night.