Recently a Scottish Rabbi was spat at in the street by a school pupil. He has kindly given his permission for us to share with you the letter he wrote to the pupil (via the school) in response. It’s worth taking the time to read it.
I am the man who was putting stuff in the boot of his car on Friday 26 October during your lunch hour and for some reason you decided to spit at the door handle of the car whilst I was standing there.
You might think it was funny or it did not cause any physical harm and why am I bothering to write to you? However if you follow the news of the events that happened the very next day, when a man entered a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 Jews whilst they were worshipping, you would see why I find your actions worrying.
You might ask how are these 2 events compared? You might be thinking I am being alarmist and extreme by comparing these events, so let me lay out my thoughts and I look forward to hearing your response.
You are 100% correct that no action of hate can compare to killing people and I am certain, I hope, you would never ever consider such action however there is, in my opinion, a commonality, and that is the thought process.
Let me explain by telling you who I am.
I am a husband, father and son who is trying my best for his family and working hard to raise them to be considerate people and consciences about society. I am exactly the same as those 11 men and woman killed in Pittsburgh, or the 2 African american’s killed a few days earlier or the 8 Muslims killed in Canada whilst worshipping at their mosque. We are just people, like you and your family, who are trying to live a decent life and being law abiding people.
However I can’t deny that I look and dress different to you. Not only am I taller than you and have a beard but I also wear a large black hat and long suit jacket as this is the dress code of the sect I belong to in the Jewish community, that’s right I am Jewish.
Equally those African Americans, 11 Jews and 8 Muslims all had something in common, they were perceived different to their killers, some looked different whilst others practised differently.
Those people people who killed the Jews, African Americans and the Muslims made 2 decisions, 1, to instead of looking at the person behind the perceived differences they looked at the differences and, 2, they decided those differences don’t deserve respect and don’t deserve to feel secure in their home cities. Basically they used deference to divide rather than bind.
Sadly, I feel that attitude was behind your spitting at me, you were spitting at difference and by so doing dividing our little otherwise beautiful neighbourhood.
Let me add one more thing.
We are fortunate that in Scotland there is a sense of civility amongst its people and therefore I feel secure against those terrible events in USA and Canada. However, from the events at the synagogue in Pittsburgh USA, a friendly, happy and cohesive community I realise that I can’t take that for granted. Unfortunately USA is going through a crises of civility, the political rhetoric has become toxic causing civility between people to be compromised and that is something that could happen in the most cohesive societies, it doesn’t take too much for people to loss their sense of civility.
This is exactly what happen in Nazi Germany, when a whole society of civilised, free thinkers, doctors and lawyers lost their sense of civility leading to the death of millions by highly educated people.
My uncles and aunts, who looked just the same as you and me but sadly were murdered in the death camps because they were different, events that begun with the breakdown of civility.
Unfortunately a spit at someone different to you is a sign of this breakdown, that is why your spiting scared me.
For your own good and the good of a civilised society look at difference as something you can gain from, something you can learn from or at least see the me and not the difference.
I am not sure you will reply to this email but I hope you will consider my thoughts.
Thanks for reading and I wish you a very successful life in a very peaceful and happy world."