Would What Jew Know?

| USA | Working | November 15, 2016

(I have recently decided to join a volunteer organization that mans a 24-hour sexual assault hotline. It’s an intense group, and they are mandated by law to put us through 40 hours of training before we start. All this happens on the first day of training, which is led by the “new volunteer coordinator,” who is a woman who is paid to exclusively work with and prepare the new batches of volunteers.)

Trainer: “Okay, everyone come get a copy of the training manual.”

(She starts handing out binders containing no less than four hundred pages of handouts and training materials. Today is supposed to focus on prejudice, in an effort to make us not be jerks to people who call in to the hotline. We get to a handout listing various types of “isms” — racism, sexism, hetero-normatism, anti-Semitism, etc.)

Trainer: “Let’s give examples of negative views held by each of these groups of prejudice.”

(We go through them all, and the trainer stops and squints at “anti-Semitism.”)

Trainer: “I’m not sure how to pronounce this one… Can anyone tell me what it is?”

(I’m already concerned… Shouldn’t the trainer know what the words in her own training material mean?)

Volunteer #1: “Doesn’t that mean, like, people who don’t like Christians?”

Class: *murmurs of agreement*

Trainer: “Okay, so what are—”

Me: *interrupting* “Um, that’s not what it means…”

(The class turns and stares at me.)

Me: “It means people who don’t like Jews. You know, like anti-Semitic?”

Volunteer #1: “Well, but couldn’t it mean, like anything religious? Like people discriminate against every religion. We shouldn’t make it just one.”

(The rest of the group nods.)

Me: “Um, but… that’s not what it means. That’s like saying homophobia could be about straight people being discriminated against.”

Trainer: “I think we should treat it as any kind of religious prejudice. It’s not like homophobia where there’s a lot of violence that makes it important.”

Me: “You’ve heard of the Holocaust, right?”

(The class stares at me, and then looks down at their desks.)

Trainer: “Oh… are you Jewish?”

Me: “That’s not even the point. If we’re supposed to be learning about the prejudices people hold, you can’t just dismiss one of the older ones as not important. It is important. 6-million-people-dead important. ”

Volunteer #2: “You know, it wasn’t just Jews killed in the Holocaust.”

Trainer: “That’s right. So, let’s treat this word as anti-religion-ism.”

Me: “But—”

(The class then begins to list examples of all the ways Christians, Wiccans, Pagans, Hindus, Muslims, etc are prejudiced against. I raise my hand and am called on.)

Me: “A prejudice against Jews is—”

Trainer: “Let’s just move on. In fact, time for lunch break!”

(I get my lunch and head outside, shaken. The trainer comes up to me and sits down.)

Trainer: “You know, I’m worried about you.”

Me: “Oh, I’m okay; it’s just a little annoying.”

Trainer: “You seem to have an awful hang-up on religion.”

Me: “…”

Trainer: “If you hate Christians so much, I’m not sure this is the right volunteer cause for you.”

Me: “I don’t hate Christians. I just know that some people hate Jews and that’s just as important to me as people hating homosexuals, Mexicans, etc.”

Trainer: “You know, there were Christians in the concentration camps, too.”

Me: “I know… Look, is this group actually affiliated with a church or something?”

Trainer: “No, we are entirely secular. We don’t discriminate against anyone.”

Me: “Can I ask why we aren’t allowed to use the actual definition of anti-Semitism then?”

Trainer: “You know, that term really could apply to anyone, to Christians…”

(At that point I left. I think she was right, that group wasn’t for me. When my Jewish husband asked why I left, all I had to say was “Did you know anti-Semitism is prejudice against Christians?” for him to understand.)

Complaining About A Lack Of Reasons To Complain

| AB, Canada | Working | January 15, 2016

(I am the treasurer of a volunteer organization. There is one board member who takes great delight in humiliating me, and tries to crucify me over the tiniest flaws in my reports. One night, he spends a half hour tearing me a new one over my font choice. I accept a new job overseas, and tender my resignation as treasurer. This one board member quickly jumps to the fore and is acclimated as the new treasurer. After the final meeting where it’s made official, he comes up to me with a very smug grin.)

Board Member: “Well, with me in charge, I’m glad there’ll finally be proper accounting in this organization. I’ll give you a week to get the books in order, and bring them by my store.”

(I reach under the board table and pull out a banker’s box.)

Me: “No need. Everything’s right here.”

Board Member: “Well, I’m certain you’ll need time to prepare [some highly specific financial reports].”

(I reach into the box and grab a ledger.)

Me: “You’ll find that report in here.”

(He glances through the ledger and finds the report he requested.)

Board Member: “Oh. Well, in one of your reports a few months ago, you provided an inventory of the office supplies we have. I’ll need all those, too, in order to get to work.”

(I reach under the board table and grab a second banker’s box.)

Me: “All the office supplies we have are in here. Inside, you’ll find a complete inventory list, and everything is accounted for.”

(His smug grin is turning into an angry scowl.)

Board Member: “I need the phone numbers of everyone in the head office so I confirm with them that everything’s in order.”

(I reach into the first box and pull out an address book.)

Me: “Every phone number you’ll need is right here.”

(He’s now grown quite angry at my level of preparedness.)

Board Member: “Well, you just thought of everything, didn’t you?”

Me: “I leave for my new job overseas in two months. If there’s something I didn’t think of, you’ll have until then to contact me.”

(When I came back from my job a year and a half later, I found a ton of mail and paperwork had been sent to me, because the new treasurer never bothered to inform anyone he was the new treasurer. When word that I was back in the country got around, the president called me up and begged me to come back!)

Loony About Astrology

| BC, Canada | Working | December 30, 2015

(We’re at the point in a meeting where we’re discussing placement of volunteers at an event.)

Chair: “[Coworker #2] always wants to help out, but she’s been awfully unpredictable lately.”

Coworker #1: “Well, Mercury IS retrograde.”

Chair: “[Coworker #1], please. I’m a scientist… No, she’s just loony.”

Electing Key Information

, | Tempe, AZ, USA | Right | March 18, 2014

(I’m volunteering to make phone calls on Election Day for a political campaign.)

Me: “Hello. This is [My Name) with [Campaign]. I’m calling to make sure—”

Voter: “Why the h*** do you call people like this?! I’m sick of it.”

Me: “Well, I’m sorry, sir. I just want to—”

Voter: “Seriously, don’t you think people are smart enough to do their own research? Everyone knows there is an election going on! There is no reason to bother people like this!”

Me: “Again, I’m sorry to bother you, sir. I just wanted to make sure you had a chance to vote today.”

Voter: “Wait… the election is today?! Thank you!”

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