It's time for a "Come To Jesus" moment, which, for those of you not familiar with the lingo, Urban Dictionary defines as "getting called on the carpet, dressed down, or otherwise chewed out in a severe manner." It's usually used in reference to a meeting, which I now call to order, and wherein I will serve as the preacher, notwithstanding the fact that I'm Jewish.
Say what? Here's the deal: I've encountered more than a few episodes around here lately in which too many people seem to have forgotten — or never figured out in the first place — that not everyone living in Charlotte and the surrounding areas is a Christian. No, that's not something new; frankly, I've tolerated the holier-than-thou assumption that there is only one faith that matters in this town for more years than I care to count. Most often, it's an innocent omission. Sometimes, it's out-and-out bigotry and/or hatred. While I've done my best from time-to-time to kindly remind folks that respect is a two-way street, it seems that a refresher is in order.
I'll start close to home, with the publication you're reading, which I've been associated with for decades. A paper that depends on local Jewish-related organizations and charities for support, and that has other Jews besides me contributing to its pages. This month, Creative Loafing celebrated the release of its annual "Best of Charlotte" edition with a big party. That party was scheduled at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3rd. But as the sun began to set, "Yom Kippur," the "Day of Atonement" was beginning. It is the most solemn day of the year, when most Jews attend services in temple and begin a 24-hour fast. It's the end of the "High Holy Days," concluding the 10-day period known as "The Days of Awe," which begin each year with the Jewish New Year, "Rosh Hashanah." It's not a time for drinking and partying, but for reflection about our lives in the past year and the year ahead.
As Yom Kippur begins, we are to be in reflective thought and prayer, asking our friends, families and associates for forgiveness for any wrongs we may have done over the past year. To say that a party is the wrong thing to occur then is beyond an understatement. Would you schedule a party on Christmas or Easter mornings?
Of course, the people who scheduled CL's party for that evening didn't do it on purpose. It was a "mistake," they told me. But it never should have happened. Shouldn't a company who's supposed to be on top of things like this know better? The fact that this happened is evidence of how much we Jews don't exist here. And that can't continue to go unchallenged. Not for Jews, not for Muslims, not for Buddhists, not for anyone else.
There are other examples of blindness, willful or otherwise, of the need to respect others' concerns here. Without going into names or other details now, I am aware of incidents on UNC Charlotte's campus recently in which some Jewish students say that, in these dangerous times, they are being harassed on campus, verbally and physically, either for identifying themselves as Jews simply by wearing Stars of David around their necks, or T-shirts proclaiming their political support for the state of Israel. The university contends that's not happening; I have evidence to refute that claim. I'll keep you posted.
Oh, one more instance, again without naming names, because I don't want to harangue anyone in particular here: In conjunction with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks last month, one local mega-church celebrated and honored the area's first responders — police, firefighters, military, etc. — for the work they do to protect us, a wonderful thing to do. I know for a fact that not everyone there was Christian, as it was publicized as an event open to the general public, not a religious event. And yet, the minister decided that it was the appropriate time to launch into a fire-and-brimstone sermon about how all of us there had to accept Christ or risk eternal damnation. That was not the time for that. In fact, I had to walk out, as I was embarrassed that I had helped publicize the event, which felt to me like a bait-and-switch, false advertising situation.
So, tell me, please: Is it so much to ask those of you who are Christian to remember that some of us follow a different path and deserve your full respect and awareness of our culture, as you expect of us? Really?