Dear Assemblyman Dov Hikind,
Hi, I’m MaNishtana. I came across an article this morning which related that for the holiday of Purim which we celebrated this past Saturday night and Sunday, you, a European Ashkenazi Jew, hired a professional makeup artist to transform you into “a ‘basketball player’ with a costume that consisted of an afro wig, sunglasses, an orange jersey and brown face paint.”
Your rationale for your choice of costume to engage in the tradition of Purim in this manner was quoted as being:
“I was just, I think, I was trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players. Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player…I can’t imagine anyone getting offended. You know, anyone who knows anything about Purim knows that if you walk throughout the community, whether it’s Williamsburg, Boro Park, Flatbush, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, people get dressed up in, you name it, you know, in every kind of dress-up imaginable. Purim, you know, everything goes and it’s all done with respect. No one is laughing, no one is mocking. It’s all just in good fun with respect always, whatever anyone does it’s done with tremendous amounts of respect and with dignity, of course.”
As someone who knows anything about Purim—and who happens to also be Black to boot—I do know that for some reason some Jews take it upon themselves to treat skin color as a costume and delude themselves into thinking they’re “being respectful” or behaving in the spirit of Purim.
They are not.
One would think that a political figure who so very recently fought so very public a battle of defense against perceived attacks against one’s identity would be slightly more perceptive to such matters himself. Unless you are not the very same Dov Hikind who so vehemently opposed a BDS panel being given an audience at Brooklyn College this past month?
Seems slightly hypocritical for you to declare that their right to voice their “anti-Israel” opinions should not be protected by the First Amendment, yet hide behind Purim to continue to perpetuate an act which has historically been used to dehumanize and ridicule an entire ethnicity, no?
Are you not the same Dov Hikind who lambasted anti-Semitic designer John Galliano for dressing in pseduo-Chassidic garb in this past month as well? How exactly do you perceive this situation to be different?
Or did your experience protesting the BDS panel somehow imbue you with the ability to determine whether or not the ethnicity you are appropriating for “fun” will be offended by your actions…despite the fact that you are not of said ethnicity and would therefore have no idea whatsoever what would or would not be found offensive. I do so hope that you were not among the Jews who found Prince Harry’s Nazi Halloween costume offensive. After all, I’m sure he couldn’t imagine that Jews would get offended because they’d understand that no one was laughing, no one was mocking the Jews, and it was just really a costume worn with tremendous amounts of respect and dignity, of course.
“I came out and I wiped my face and I still had stuff on my face. It’s going to take me a while. But it’s all worth it, I would do it again in a minute.”
In fact, for future instances you should probably stick to your regular costume: that of an Orthodox Jew.
Clearly, you have the outfit down.
The ideology of responsibility to elevate Jews and Judaism in the eyes of others?
Not so much.
But if you keep scrubbing, you might get all that Chillul Hashem off your face by Yom Kippur.