I Forgot Where I Lived

It was Jewish Community Night at the Indians game.  The last time I went to one of these games must have been about ten years ago, maybe longer.  Whole sections were sold to various synagogues, youth groups, and public service organizations.  Many of the fans looked just like the thousands of other attendees.  Some of the women did look a little overdressed for a pleasant summer evening.  They wore long skirts and blouses or sweaters that covered most of their arms.  Some of the boys and men had brightly colored kipot (yarmulkes) a top their heads.  The stadium had plenty of places to purchase Kosher Hot Dogs and they were being washed down with bottled water, soda, and more than a few beers.

As sundown approached a group of men, many of them bearded and in dark suits, stood in one of the sections, faced east, and began to quickly pray the evening service.  Others joined them, though you might not have even noticed had the stadium been more crowded.  The bearded men were Orthodox and once they were done, they were done.  No fuss.  No big deal.  The daily evening service is part or their daily lives.

But what if you weren’t Orthodox?  What if you weren’t even Jewish?  Did some of the Protestants at the game wonder, maybe for just a moment, what was happening to their country?  Was the U.S. being overrun, invaded, by bearded foreign men who spoke in a different language and wore odd clothing?  Would their children, the REAL American children, be forced to change to accommodate those men in Section 505?

There are pictures of Muslims praying on Facebook.  The nerve of them!  What right do a couple hundred Muslims have to gather at a public park in any city in the USA, much less Brooklyn, and pray to their G-d as if it was legal and acceptable?  The camera pans in and out and we see that the field is between a freeway and the water’s edge.  The crowd has old men, young men, children.  CHILDREN!  Are these future terrorists or just the kid that sits next to your kid at lunch?

I was trying to leave my office.  I needed to get home, but I watched the video twice.  I forgot where I lived and I’m not sure that I can find my way home.

Aren’t we better than this?  We have candidates suggesting a religious test for entry to the U.S.  One blowhard even crossed the line to suggest special ID badges for Muslims.  Well, we’ve seen how that plays out.  It hasn’t even been one hundred years since our relatives wore those stars on their clothing.  The moment we force a group, any group, to be publicly identified due to their religion is the day we permanently lose ourselves to hate and fear.  G-d knows we came close during World War II and the Japanese internment camps.  Mandatory identification of a religious minority would be the final step.

I didn’t forget where I lived.  I live in the United States of America.  We are the land of the free.  The home of the brave.  When I see this hate and fear from our friends and politicians I have to remind myself the value of being both Free and Brave.