Slight hesitation, then an extended hand.

Jessica Ruth Robkin
Port St. Lucie, FL

I have faced discrimination my entire life, though the moment that brought about the above sentence occurred outside of my mother’s hospital room, while she lay dying from pancreatic cancer at the age of 57. My father and I happened to meet someone who had known my mother when she was just a teenager growing up in the panhandle of Florida – basically the deep south. The woman was unfamiliar with our last name, it being so different from a traditional Anglo-Saxon name. When we told her the origin and what it meant (“rabbi”), she paused as she was moving forward to shake our hand. It took her a few moments and I will never be sure if it was her southern manners that forced her to continue the handshake or if she was able to overcome her aversion. I hope it was the latter. I will never know, but I can always hope that it was. I can only hope that race (even in the highly charged debate over Judaism being a race or a religion) will some day be obsolete. My mother, the reason we were all brought together that night, never saw anything but the person in front of her. She never cared if they were a different race or religion (she was a southern baptist woman married to a Jewish man), she never judged people. I hope that a small part of her incredible ability to look past the surface may have transferred to that woman in the hospital hallway. It is my ardent desire that one day, there will never be hesitation in a handshake because of an uncontrollable factor, that we as a species will learn that there is nothing that separates us from each other but our preconceived ideas.

 

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