Editor’s Note: Part of this column was inadvertently cut and did not appear in print. It is being re-run in its entirety today.
Hearing her story, I didn’t know whether to scream in anger or cry in sadness.
As every word of what happened to Marra Gad — a black, Jewish author — at the Union for Reform Judaism biennial convention in Chicago a couple weeks ago was spoke, I began to realize what a sad world we live in and 2020 couldn’t come fast enough.
Gad, author of “The Color of Love,” appeared at the convention as a speaker.
When she went to pick up her credentials, she was told that the “real” Marra Gad needed to pick up her badge. And when she replied that she was the real Marra Gad, she did not receive an apology. Instead, the person behind the desk said, “Really?”
She eventually received her very bright orange badge that clearly said “Presenter” across the bottom but she was assumed to be hotel staff more than once. While wearing the bright orange badge. Once she was told to do more to get room service orders out more quickly.
Others asked what she was doing there and when she would reply that I was a featured speaker on Shabbat afternoon, she was then asked what she could possibly have to speak about. In an elevator with attendees, she overheard whispers about her.
It all grew so uncomfortable for her to be out with the general population that she had to be escorted from place to place by URJ staff who saw some of the looks for themselves.
She received a heartfelt apology from URJ President Rick Jacobs.
But the damage has been done.
A women was subjected to racism by people of her own religion. My religion.
Ironically, Jacobs spoke at the convention about embracing the diversity within the Jewish community. And here, one of his speakers met the hate head-on.
I am embarrassed this happened. I am downright pissed off any time I hear about any type of hate.
During the last week while Jews celebrated Chanukah, the festival of lights, there were nearly 10 attacks on Jews.
This has to stop. Racism. Islamophobia. Homophobia. Anti-Semitism.
There is no place for it.
We put men on the moon. We have artificial hearts keeping people alive.
Yet this country can’t find a way for its inhabitants to co-exist with each other.
We’re not going to like everybody. I’m not asking for that.
But the attacks — verbal and physical — have to end.
We are a civilized nation and it’s time we start acting like it.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.