The White Cow


When my kids were small they spent a considerable amount of time looking for the white cow.  The white cow was born out of necessity.  We were in the car, and everyone was getting antsy.  To keep the kids entertained, I told them to look for the white cow.  Searching for the white cow became a pastime for many years, and eventually morphed into a family saying for something you have heard about but have never seen.  I saw a white cow at gymnastics today.

I knew that we lived in a conservative Christian area.  I knew that some conservative Christians are very right wing and have some radical ideas, some bigoted ideas.  I had never knowingly run into one before, and, like the white cow, they were just something I had heard of, but never seen. 

Today in the waiting room at gymnastics, one of the other mothers said that Jews want to kill Christians. 

I am letting that stand alone, because it takes a minute to take that in.  She really said that Jews want to kill Christians.  I was playing Angry Birds and enjoying my hour off, and I sucked all the air out of the room and turned and asked for her to refrain from talking like that because I find it offensive.  I then returned to my game.

Eventually, I got up to see what my daughter was doing and she walked over to me.  I could feel the presence of hatred, and I began to scurry over strollers and other parents to escape.  She began to talk to me about what she had said.  Probably not my best moment, but I labeled her behavior and told her to stop speaking to me, to not even be near me.  I have never been so close to that level of hatred and denial in my life.  During our conversation she told me that “the whole thing with Hitler was a media exaggeration.”

She went on to explain that the Talmud tells us it is ok to kill Christians.  When I asked if she had read the Talmud, she told me no, but she had read interpretations.  She knew that those interpretations were accurate.  At this point I was so overwhelmed by the insanity of what was being said, I wanted to make it end.  I wanted to not be near her. 

The level of her ignorance was frightening.  It made me seriously consider that she might attempt to harm me and my children.  She might try and burn a cross in my yard.  We have taken measures to insure our security.

It was a shocking and hard reminder of the choice that I made for myself and my kids.  I have chosen for them to be raised in a religion that many people hate.  I have chosen to put them in a highly concentrated conservative Christian area.  I have made them targets.

I met my first out-spoken anti-Semite today.  I have felt for the first time the hatred some people feel towards Jews.  I hope I can shield my kids from that, but if I can’t I hope I can teach them to be strong and carry on.

6 thoughts on “The White Cow”

  • I live in the Bible belt and it is not uncommon to hear for Christian children are taught (at church and/or at home) that Jews can’t go to heaven because they don’t believe in Jesus. My daughter has had children tell her this- it’s happened in more than one grade level.  She is very proud of being Jewish, and even in the second grade felt comfortable enough telling her classmate that it was ok for her to believe what she believed, and that her classmate could believe what she wanted. In one instance the child wouldn’t stop; my daughter asked the teacher to help her out when they returned to class after recess.

    I was very proud of her for handling the situation so maturely. My son went through the same elementary school and never had conversations like that. My best guess is that my daughter is fairly vocal about being Jewish because she feels it is something special, and she enjoys being different, and so children have responded to that.

    As far as wanting to prevent your children from running into someone outright anti-Semitic or someone implying in any way that being Jewish means you’re lacking– I think this is like any other situation where we can’t shelter our children completely. We can give them the tools for responding (or not) to statements like this. As they get older, we can give them a historical perspective on the relationship parts of the world or parts of the population has with Jews and Judaism.

    best of luck to you on your interfaith parenting journey.

  • So sorry you have had this rude awakening.  We have experienced this from other teens who have told my kids that they are going to hell.
    We also live in the bible belt.
    I finally realized that arguing with these types of people will get you know where, so now my children’s reply is that yea, but It’s a dry heat.

  • I am so sorry to hear about this experience.  I live in an area that has both a lot and very few Jews – the city as a whole has a very large Jewish population, but my suburb has very few. I am fortunate to have had very few outright antisemitic experiences personally.  I choose to look for the “white cow” of people acting lovingly and acceptingly.  We had an experience many years ago of a shooter who went all over the place, and killed several racial and religious minorities.  This was right  before the High Holy Days.  Several of the neighborhood churches reached out to us, and volunteered to send people to stand guard in front of the synagogue during services if we wanted.  It was really sweet, and I choose to cling to that memory.

  • I am now 57 and when I was growing up in a city in Western Massachusetts  I was told by friends who had just attend catechism class down the street the following:

    You killed Christ, I can’t play with you.

    I was in 2nd grade at the time and said – I don’t know who this person is and I didn’t kill anyone. This is still a vivid memory many years later.

    All kinds of people must be educated. There is so much ignorance about religions.

    When I hear the term “Jewed them down” I shiver and often don’t respond because I am so offended.

  • I think the previous commenter, Lisa, said it all very well. I am so sorry you experienced this. I don’t know where you are located, but I know I live in the “Bible belt” as well, and I know there are unfortunate folks like this woman around us. But, not everyone feels as this woman does. You are clearly a strong woman who is raising your family the way you see to be the right way, not necessarily the easiest way or the mainstream way. I think that makes you someone who stands out above any crowd.

  • SLP, it breaks my heart to read your account of the run-in with the white supremacist while with your daughter.  As a Quaker Christian with an education in International Relations, I take serious issue with anyone who denounces the holocaust.  As a former college TA in Comparative Religion studies, I also take issue with anyone who forms a conviction based on religious text not experienced firsthand.  Radical fundamentalists of any faith can be quite a handful.  Mercifully, they represent only a small fraction of the world population.  Fear not, and continue to live your life in conformity with your faith.  For you, it is a choice.  For now, it is your childrens’ birthright.  And please know that there are in fact Christians that love people of all faiths, that hold you and your loved ones dear and close to the heart.

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