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Rockland County, NY - Homeowner Apologizes As Racially Tinged Purim Display Highlights Need For Greater Cultural Sensitivity

Published on: March 25, 2016 01:40 PM
Last updated on: March 25, 2016 02:14 PM
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Courtesy News 12Courtesy News 12

Rockland County, NY - For the second year in a row, a black-faced Haman hung in effigy from a Spring Valley window in honor of Purim has sparked outrage for its blatant lack of sensitivity.

The doll that has since be removed, sported dreadlocks dressed in blue jeans and a white hooded sweatshirt as first reported by News 12.

Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder said that the homeowner did not realize that the Purim display would be offensive to others, removing the doll as soon as they were made aware of the problem.

The homeowner, who asked not be identified out of fear of retribution, expressed remorse over the incident, which was never meant to offend anyone.  They said their children have been hanging Haman in effigy on Purim for several years, although this year’s Haman was somewhat darker skinned than in previous years.

“The children didn’t realize that they were hurting somebody in the process because they didn’t realize what it represented,” the homeowner told VIN News.  “As we heard there was a problem we stopped everything in the middle of the holiday and took it down.”

The homeowner said that they live on a culturally diverse block and enjoy positive interactions with their neighbors, including handing out candy on Halloween to the children who ring their doorbell when they come trick-or-treating.

“We apologized right away,” said the homeowner. “We have a very good relationship with our neighbors and we do apologize for hurting other people.”

Wieder issued a statement offering his apologies for the Purim display, noting that while it may be rooted in tradition, offensive displays are inexcusable. He noted that the incident highlighted the need for greater understanding and respect between the many cultural groups that call Spring Valley home in order to encourage dialogue and build trust.

“I call for more education and sensitivity and coexistence between our neighbors wherever education takes place,” Wieder told VIN News.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, director of Project Y.E.S. and a Monsey resident, said that the incident demonstrates a needed for greater cultural sensitivity.

“We ask our neighbors to be sensitive to our culture and our religious needs but we have to respect theirs as well,” said Rabbi Horowitz.  “If you don’t teach our children what it is important to our neighbors, how are they supposed to know?”

Rabbi Horowitz issued a statement on Facebook condemning the Purim display and offering a personal apology to those who were offended by it. He encouraged rabbonim, community leaders and private citizens to publicly distance themselves from the incident as a way of showing friendship, respect and tolerance.

“I hope that this was just tasteless, but people should speak up because our neighbors don’t know that,” said Rabbi Horowitz.


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Read Comments (19)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 25, 2016 at 01:45 PM The_Truth Says:

Any hanging Haman should not be a white Caucasian, thats for sure. Closest thing would be to hang someone of middle eastern appearance.

2

 Mar 25, 2016 at 01:49 PM HankM Says:

What are we Arabs?

3

 Mar 25, 2016 at 01:55 PM kenyaninwhitehouse Says:

must be anti-Semitism right?

4

 Mar 25, 2016 at 02:26 PM Boochie Says:

Unbelievable..... It's amazing what 30 yrs can do, growing up as a kid I remember a hanging Hamon on every block

Now rabbis are criticizing it, someone please tell Rabbi Horowitz that who ever was offered by the hanging Hamon will be offended by anything we do

5

 Mar 25, 2016 at 02:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Meanwhile there was another FBI staging in Monsey. And we wonder why so many people contact the FBI about our dealings???? The residents were warned last year about these effigies. Guess the hasids are laughing all the way to the bank.

6

 Mar 25, 2016 at 02:39 PM Yoseph Says:

Just don't do it. There are many other ways to have fun on Purim.

7

 Mar 25, 2016 at 02:49 PM eli845 Says:

Such nonsense

8

 Mar 25, 2016 at 05:32 PM SuffernDeb Says:

Reply to #4  
Boochie Says:

Unbelievable..... It's amazing what 30 yrs can do, growing up as a kid I remember a hanging Hamon on every block

Now rabbis are criticizing it, someone please tell Rabbi Horowitz that who ever was offered by the hanging Hamon will be offended by anything we do

That's a really piss poor attitude and one that gets no one anywhere. The fact is that hanging anyone in effigy is an act of anger. There is no reason to encourage it. It only encourages the idea that hanging your enemies makes sense sometimes. This kind of mob mentality retribution was used to lynch thousands of black people for hundreds of years in the US and there simply is no longer any reason to lynch anyone for any reason, period. So celebrate Esther's win without celebrating the mob lynching of Haman. Traditions evolve over time and for those Jews celebrating Purim in the US, traditions should evolve to respect current American sentiments and those feeling include a negative opinion of lynch mob mentality. Most of this lynch mob mentality is from decades ago in the south and unfortuantely still scene on the nightly news when reporting on extremist muslims uprisings overseas. I was personally really impressed that Rabbi Horowitz made his statement. I only wish it were shared more widely and accepted by both sides with the sentiment that he intended it. Boochie, grow up.

9

 Mar 25, 2016 at 05:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Boochie Says:

Unbelievable..... It's amazing what 30 yrs can do, growing up as a kid I remember a hanging Hamon on every block

Now rabbis are criticizing it, someone please tell Rabbi Horowitz that who ever was offered by the hanging Hamon will be offended by anything we do

Hanging a dark-faced, dreadlocked doll is insensitive because so many African-American were lynched. Now that the homeowner knows this, we can only hope that he doesn't do this next year.

By the way, I work with a significant number of people from India. One of the first things that they were told before they came to the U.S. is that they shouldn't use swastikas, even though the swastika is a good-luck symbol in India. This is done out of sensitivity to the many people who suffered at the hand of the nazis (y's).

11

 Mar 25, 2016 at 06:16 PM Crazykanoiy Says:

Its time to put an end to racism in our community. It is unfortunately all too common to hear derogatory "shvartze" comments from people who claim to be responsible educators and community leaders.

12

 Mar 25, 2016 at 10:21 PM L-Chaim Says:

Maybe the effigy should have lighter skin, no dreadlocks or beads, and wear a crown and king's robes, so it's obvious it's Hamen?
Or maybe the Purim store could stock effigies that are clearly not racist?
There are many ways to have fun without causing offense or risking a riot (because that was brewing even if you you didn't notice).

13

 Mar 26, 2016 at 06:02 AM Normal Says:

They don't need sensitivity, they need some Sechel.

14

 Mar 26, 2016 at 02:12 PM Brooklyn Momma Says:

Reply to #6  
Yoseph Says:

Just don't do it. There are many other ways to have fun on Purim.

Agreed. And don't give me this garbage about not realizing - these kids went to considerable trouble adding dreadlocks. If families in the UK who burn effigies of Guy Fawkes on their bonfire parties on Nov 5 made them look like Jews, the fireworks at the parties would be nothing compared to the heat & explosions coming from the Jewish community.

The parents knew, they saw the thing hanging there - they encouraged it or at least gave haskama - are we stupid that we believe they didn't realize? Their Black neighbors aren't stupid either. Disgusting & whatever happens next (bad feelings, comments, minor harassment), they brought it on themselves. Some serious grovelling needed here.

15

 Mar 26, 2016 at 09:32 PM Anonymous Says:

The homeowner used atrocious judgment, and showed a complete lack of sachel. He is lucky that his neighbors didn't retaliate by engaging in criminal acts, against his home.

16

 Mar 26, 2016 at 10:13 PM Anonymous Says:

Absurd comment

17

 Mar 26, 2016 at 11:13 PM charliehall Says:

You are an ingrate and an ignoramus. And if you are a Jew you are a disgrace to the Jewish people.

18

 Mar 27, 2016 at 12:55 AM Mark Levin Says:

I'm sick of all this cultural sensitivity manure already. When will the descendants of Chum be sensitive about decendends of Shem and Yofes ?????

When that happens come back to us.

19

 Mar 27, 2016 at 10:20 AM Yoshka Says:

I agree to hang on Purim a dummy in effigy is very bad taste. Truly I despise it as it reminds me of the many blacks in this country that were wrongfully killed. However I am also offended when I see in front of a catholic church an effigy of a dead Jew crucified on a cross. Over the centuries many thousands of innocent Jews were killed that way for not accepting Christianity. It's about time the catholic churches become sensitive to Jewish feelings.

20

 Mar 29, 2016 at 07:38 PM Chaimke Says:

Reply to #19  
Yoshka Says:

I agree to hang on Purim a dummy in effigy is very bad taste. Truly I despise it as it reminds me of the many blacks in this country that were wrongfully killed. However I am also offended when I see in front of a catholic church an effigy of a dead Jew crucified on a cross. Over the centuries many thousands of innocent Jews were killed that way for not accepting Christianity. It's about time the catholic churches become sensitive to Jewish feelings.

“ I agree to hang on Purim a dummy in effigy is very bad taste"
Apparently the Rema who brings down the Aruch that it was a Minhag in Bavel to make a dummy of Haman and hang it --- Doesnt agree with you that it is BAD Taste!!
Check it up Orach Chaim Siman 690 Seif 16. Hilchos Megilla. Darkei Moshe

21

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