Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Yesterday at the library I met some interesting black kids.
Cedric was 11. He could not get over Zalman. All he wanted to do was hold him, which was fine with me. Cedric had a very cute sister (also nuts over Zalman). They were with an older friend, a "gangsta." He had a sullen look and a nasty mouth.
So I took out my siddur to da'aven. Cedric asked, "What language is that?" and I said, "Hebrew." He said, "Man, you can read that?" We chatted for awhile until I told him I had to talk to G-d instead.
He asked me for some of our pretzels. I gave him some, and his sister too. They thanked me. I told them the pretzels didn't come from me, They came from G-d, and He was the one to thank. I asked them if they knew about Abraham. Cute Sister said she read about him in her bible. I explained how Abraham lived in a tent that was open on all 4 sides, so people could come from any direction. I told them how Abraham loved to serve his guests, and when the meal was over he asked them to thank G-d for the food. If they didn't thank G-d, he'd bill them for the food. They liked the story.
Gangsta put in his nasty 2 cents now and again, but everybody ignored him. When we went to leave, I noticed the book he was reading: Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends." I found it incongruous that Gangsta was into it (although Shel Silverstein wouldn't). I asked him what his favorite poem was, and I told him mine. I told him he might like some of Silverstein's other books, and asked the librarian to help him find them.
I left the library pondering.
What is my role as a Jew? To reveal G-dliness in the world. Why is it odd that Gangstas appreciate kooky Jewish poets? Because I'm stuck in my stereotypes. Did I reveal G-d in the library?
I hope so.