Was this anti-semitism or was it the act of an unbalanced person?

Was this anti-semitism or was it the act of an unbalanced person?

I was with my son at the mall, starting to stock up on stuff for his aliyah. He has a long list, and we have thankfully managed to cross many things off.

We entered one of the department stores, and were in the men’s section looking at trousers, and  I turned around to see a woman standing there staring at us. She raised her hand in the shape of a gun and “shot” once at my son, and once at me. She turned around after giving me a menacing look, found someone else to talk to – and cooed over their baby.

I was unsettled. I was disturbed. Was this because my son and I look obviously Jewish? I was wearing a head scarf, and was covered to my neck, my wrists and my ankles. My son was wearing jeans, a shirt and a kippah. Most women around us were wearing shorts and tank tops, the guys shorts and tees. The difference was obvious.

Later, my son went to try on some clothes, and she was standing outside the changing rooms striking up random crazy conversations with the other people waiting there. It was obvious to me at that point that there was something not right with her.

I didn’t report her to security even though I felt extremely threatened. How can I prove that it was threatening? If she is mentally unbalanced, she might not have known what she was doing. How can I be sure it was anti-semitic? Does it even matter? Surely, the fact that I felt threatened is the point here. My son saw nothing, thank goodness. And I hadn’t wanted to make a scene. But should I have? Are we too quick to cry anti-semitism?

I feel extremely shaken. And even though that is totally understandable part of me feels I am over-reacting. How would you have reacted?

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6 Comments

  1. It was threatening whether or not she is mentally unbalanced or anti-Semitic. If you find yourself in the same store again, I would say something to security. This is not a time for jokes about shooting in our country.

  2. Craig says:

    Just like shooting someone who is gay is only a hate crime if you shot the person BECAUSE s/he was gay, there is no easy way to know if this was anti-semitic (you’re Jewish?). At this point, you cannot prove that, but you can prove you felt threatened (or at least, that is a fact that cannot be argued). Notifying security is a judgement call.

    Glad you are safe.

  3. Rebecca Fistel says:

    While I believe this was the antic of a mentally ill person, you may not see her again in the store. If this happens again, I would report the person to security and have them watch her. Mentally ill people do serious, damaging things. I the world that we live in now, I do not believe that anyone who is acting in an inappropriate of unlevel manner should be pointed out to security. It is then up to them. We all have to keep our eyes and ears open, whether or not we are Jewish, Christian, Black, White, Green, Yellow, of stable health, deformed, etc.

  4. Exactly as Aliza said. WHY she acted that way you may not know for certain. It’s the WHAT that you do know and that was absolutely a threat. Does it matter if she’s ‘mentally unbalanced’ or not? Definitely worth calling security over.

    As an aside, I was once spat on in the mall (NOT anti-semitic… just juvenile delinquents) and I CHASED those hooligans through the mall, looking like an idiot, did not catch them, then went straight to security and they went right after them. I don’t know what happened next. Just reminded me of this story and I thought I’d share :-)

  5. Melissa says:

    I’m with Aliza and Laura. It doesn’t matter what her intention was, making a gun with your hand and mock shooting at two people is a threatening act. To be honest, if you could describe her, I would suggest calling security now (so what if its later) just to have it put on their radar.
    This could be a sign of something bigger. (And if it happened how would you feel if you hadn’t said something?) Security is definitely something where I feel its always better to speak up.

  6. Marquis says:

    Looks like racism to me. Keep a log with photos when this happens, this may happen again.

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