I was a teaching a non computing class earlier this week. The students and I strayed away from the main topic of conversation (as one does in these types of lessons) and for some reason started talking about Judaism. I can't remember what the catalyst for the conversation was, but I won't forget some of the comments for a long time to come.
Some of these kids seemed convinced that all Jews are rich (nothing new there then) and that the reason why Charedim/Hasidim wear large hats is solely because they need somewhere to hide their money under. This is obviously an idea that they will have heard from home or in the media or in their place of worship.
I ridiculed this suggestion by taking my kipah (skullcap) off in front of them and shaking it a few times to see if any money would come out. I then put my hands into my hair, ruffled it a little and waited for the notes to fall out. Unfortunately, I wasn't successful. My hair was definitely moneyless.
The kids then replied that they weren't talking about "you Sir", but the others who wear large hats.
Despite my protestations and evidence to the contrary, these young adults are already eagerly buying into the age old anti-Semitic lies that we have had to contend with since the days of Abraham. Nothing I could say or do could convince them that they were talking utter rubbish. I even told them that I had met a lot of Jews and had not once ever seen money leaking out of either a streimel, spodek or any type of headgear.
Of course they didn't believe me.
I had another student in a different class talk about "you lot", continuing with the usual crap about money, power etc. Unfortunately, it's not only the kids in the school who believe this hogwash, but that's another story that I'm not going to elucidate on.
I write about this with a clear image of what has just been happening in Mumbai clogging the arteries of both my heart and brain.
It was no accident that the terrorists (and not "militants" as the BBC, CNN and so forth call them - these people are terrorists. They terrorise and kill, so let's make sure we use the correct terminology instead of this watered down crap) specifically targeted the Chabad House and killed the Rabbi, Rebetzin and anyone else they could shoot. It was a blatant act of anti-Semites, irrespective of what any Palestine adoring left-winger will want to tell you.
Let's rewind five, ten years ago when these young terrorists were sitting in a classroom as teenage students. Did they also believe that the Jews were rich and powerful? Did they also come to lessons with their minds poisoned from what they heard at home, in the media or in their place of worship?
Thinking about the way this week has panned out, I feel a chill traverse it's way through my very being. The poisoned minds of today's children could, might or might not lead to the kinds of twisted logic those young men felt when they stormed into the hotels, restaurants and particularly the Chabad House and butchered innocents.
I'm not saying that the children I teach will ever carry out such actions, but the fact that they are already poisoned with the vitriol of antisemitism makes me wonder how many others of their age, who also believe the same lies, will move on from ridiculing our people, to despising them and wanting to make the next logical bloodthirsty move.
It's a downright depressing thought but then again, if you're the one person reading this who has taught his or her child or student that all Jews are rich and powerful, you've got some real explaining to do.
And I wouldn't leave it for too long either.