Monday, September 26, 2005

Dismal Discrimination

I went to a local kosher ice cream shop where they have many Hispanics working behind the counter. There were a few customers around, and a frum guy walks in and yells, "Hey, Amigo-sleepin' today?" He took it well and responded, "A little bit," and the frum guy proceeds with his racist remarks, "Get me an iced coffee, mucho grande! The most grande ya got!" Now, you can look at this two ways, you be impressed that the guy is being friendly and everything like that. He's not mumbling, "large iced coffee." Or you can see his outright racism and disrespect. Don't get me wrong. I'm not all obssessed with the whole racism thing , but the fact that he was shouting grammatical errors showed me that he wasn't a Spanish speaker trying to communicate. I doubt he said thank you. I simply don't understand why people think they are being cool, or funny, calling this guy "Amigo," or worse, "Pedro," (when it's not his name) how would they feel if I shouted, "Hey Jew! Hey Hebe! Abraham! Moses!" Why is it fair for them to discriminate?

Then I walk out. Directly across from the door, SMACK in the middle of the bus stop, is an Infiniti SUV with the windows wide open. What kind of selfishness is that? If you need to block a bus stop, which once in a while IS necessary, or you're screwed and you have no coffee for the day, at least move up to the front of the bus stop so the bus can pull over!
Do you own the streets, buddy?? Walk an extra 5 steps-it won't kill you.

Anyway, that's not even the point, I know you're all gonna say, "Would you think the same way if he drove a broken-down Chevy?" Probably, because when I walked out and saw the Inifniti, it all cam together somehow.

Other people seem to think this is okay. They refer to their cleaning help as "Goytes," which I find to be very demeaning. Call her your "Cleaning Lady," or even "housekeeper" which seems kind of archaic nowadays, like in a Shakespeare play or something. I don't know...I think some people fail to remember that they are human beings as we are, and trying to overwork them or to take away their remaining pride is a terrible thing to do. Am I saying they hold the highest position in the employment chain? Obviously not, but they deserve respect as a human. As far as I have seen, this is not a very common practice--I hope.

As it is before Rosh Hashana, I also have to relate the positive. I know some people who always give their cleaning ladies lunch every day, and treat them like people. I doubt they refer to them as "goytes." It's a very hard line not to cross, because if you treat them too well, they'll feel like they don't have to work, but if you treat them like crap, you are making their job harder and less pleasant, and making a Chillul Hashem.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Singer Kanye Who??

My brother and I were reading a Jewish newspaper that caters to the yeshivish community. They know that for many, this is their only news source. So they deemed it important enough to mention Kanye West's recent statement, "President Bush doesn't care about black people." I found the fact that they mentioned him entertaining enough, but it only got better. They referred to him as Singer (not Rapper) Kanye West, and said that "she" did not stick to "her" prepared speech. It's so nice to see naive clueless people think that he's a woman.

As much I make fun of these people, I admire them. Because, honestly, how will my knowledge of the celebrity world help me "up there"? I like when people try to remain sheltered (to a point-not to the point of naivete, which in my opinion, is hazardous) I think it shows a certain pride in being frum. I remember mentioning Jessica Simpson in passing to a friend of mine--at the height of Newlyweds and her, "Is it chicken or fish" flub. My friend crinkled her nose and asked, "Jessica WHO?" I used to think it was impossible to escape these things. I thought everyone knew about Britney Spears and Brad and Jen and Angelina, but I do believe that there is a small percentage of Jews (none in my neighborhood, really) that choose to isolate themselves from this garbage, and I really admire their efforts.

It's really hard to avoid exposure to these things. Although I had never seen an episode of Sex and the City, I could still the names of the actresses and the characters they play. The same for Desperate Housewives. Because the media is so loud and overbearing. It's everywhere.

I wrote a seven-page article on that which I am trying to figure out where to put...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hey you! Look at me!!

This morning I was walking to Seminary, and this yeshivish-looking guy on the street looked down, buried his face in his hat, and whisked past me. Honestly, I used to think, "OMG, this guy is so rude. Why can't he look me in the face? Why does he have to look down?" Call me Chassidish, brainwashed, yeshivish--whatever. But here's my new theory. I already hear the arguments before I type it. But okay.

These men don't look at girls. It's not to demean us or to be rude and condescending. They're married, or they GET married. They know that women are not evil, and are not poisonous.They are attracted to women. (That's part of the problem)They just don't want to tempt themselves. Okay, here you are..."If he's turned on by any woman on the street, he has a problem--maybe he shouldn't walk the streets..." Whatever. That doesn't mean every time he sees a woman, his body goes crazy. This guy is doing what he can to keep himself in check. It's Tznius. People should respect him for that.

Now, tell me the guy is a total moron everywhere else and treats people like garbage, disregard what I said. But most of these people are sincere and just don't want to put themselves in a sticky situation. They treat everyone, especially their wives with respect and honor.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Back to School

So, I was all excited to start Seminary (for the 3rd time). By now, I can probably GIVE the orientation speech. But I sat through it anyway.

I was looking forward to seeing my teachers again, but they taught exactly the same thing they taught last year and two years ago. It was actually funny watching these kids scribble furiously while I casually jotted down things that struck me semi-important. People, plan a new lesson for crying out loud. It'll be interesting though, because every year there are different people with different views, and they will steer the discussions in a different path than last years girls did, I believe.

After I acquainted myself with a few girls, one asked innocently, "Are you from Brooklyn?" "Guess." I replied, with a smirk. "No." She said, all sure of herself. "I am, actually, but I just love hearing that I'm not." I laughed. That was a good one.

There was a kid sitting next to me wearing a Polo Ralph Lauren shirt, which I have the same (from T.J. Maxx--really cheap, trust me), so to make conversation, I told her with a friendly smile, "I was gonna wear that shirt today--good I didn't..." I seriously had it on, and decided I looked Chassidish, so I scrapped that plan. So she asks, "This one? or the one from Old Navy?" Alright kid. What does it matter. Someone's trying to be friendly, and all you do is give her attitude? You think I stand for that? I replied, with a slight edge, "No-Polo Ralph Lauren like yours," and then she defended, "not like I care or anything..." So I consoled, "Don't worry I have a few of the Old Navy ones too." See, now had that been all, I'd deem it insignificant--just a misunderstanding--and move on with my merry day.

Then the kid decided to argue with the teacher that was saying the exact same thing she was, she just didn't let the teacher finish---rather, start--her sentence to let her know. She was all passionate-into it. Usually people are mellow the first day--if this is mellow, I'm movin my desk far, far away. This is what I get stuck with next to me? And from the Hayligeh Lakewood??

She reminds me of a girl who was in my class last year who yelled at the Rebbeim and asked loudly, "Where do you know that from? Which Sefer?Show me. I wanna see," and would interrupt either to show of what she thought was brilliance, or to ask a really dumb question. Whatever happened to sitting down, shutting up, and taking notes??

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Toto, We're Not in Brooklyn Anymore

This Shabbos, I attended yet another Simcha. While it was only 10 short blocks away from the other one, it was the complete opposite of the last one I attended.

One summer, the father of the bride was in Aveilus. He just got up from Shiva and he came to the country. He still gave me such a warm greeting, "Hi, Michelle. How are you?" with a sincere smile-like he always does. You could never tell. He also, Thank G-d, does very well for himself, but drives two simple cars. His house is very nice, but not gawdy or ostentatious. Everything is done with taste and class.

As for the Simcha itself, the food there was obviously of the higher end, but nice people have a right to do that. They're not shoving their money in your face all the time.

There were many speeches during the meal, which made it tedious to sit through. However, unlike the previous one I had been to, everyone was quiet.

One of the grandfathers got up to speak. It was not very engaging, as it was monotonous and long. I looked around the room. Everyone was quiet. Almost everyone was listening. But nobody was talking. I smiled. This crowd [temporarily] restored my faith in people of this generation. I was so happy to see a group of people together that can keep their mouths shut while someone speaks.

This family is so respectful of everyone around them. I mean, how many 40-something year old men ask their friends' children how they are. When we arrived, he asked us each individually how we are and how things are going, and thanked us so much for coming. He takes a genuine interest in everyone's well-being. That's unique. His speech was so sincere. He thanked Hashem with a full heart, and spoke with love for Torah and learning. How this guy survives in Brooklyn is beyond me. The same goes for his wife and children. All so special, and respectful of everyone around them. I have never heard anyone in that family ever say anything bad about anyone. And I've known them for over 10 years.

Everyone was just accepted. It felt like one big family. Everyone was dressed B'Tznius. Nobody looked whorish or showy. The girls were all friendly, but in a nice aidel way. None of the teenagers were loud and rowdy. Everyone was quiet during the speeches. I felt I was far far away from Brooklyn.

Just wait till the next Simcha. I have a feeling this one was one-of-a-kind.