Thursday, February 14, 2008

Much to learn from a 24-year-old Jewish lawmaker

As I was reading through this article about Mr. Jason Bedrick's experience with being the first 'practising' Jew in Legislature(jazaks for forwarding Nida!), I was amazed at the number of statements and situations I could very much identify with.

For example:

"The Jewish faith has outward signs of being Jewish to improve your behavior," Bedrick said. "If I walk in with a beard and yarmulke, I represent something. . . . I need to constantly study to know what I'm talking about, to avoid foul language, gossip, negative talk about people. You have to always be on your best behavior to make sure you're a good and proper representative of your faith."

Switch "Jewish" with "Islamic" and "beard and yarmulke" with "hijab" and you would get a statement which I bet every hijabi (including myself) has used a couple of times.

On the plane ride home [from Israel], Bedrick began to reconsider his intentions to remove the yarmulke and tzitzit. "I thought, 'I'm Jewish in Israel, but not America?' This is my identity." He kept the clothing and became one of two Babson College students to wear a yarmulke, Bleich said.

Again, I know many Muslim women who started seriously considering wearing a scarf (not just in the masjid) after they realized that they didn't want to be two different people.

Bedrick also employs one of my favourite tricks:
The most challenging law during the campaign was that prohibiting contact between unmarried men and women. "You already look weird because it's not common to have beards, then you say I'd like you to vote for me but I can't shake your hand," Bedrick said. He learned to knock on doors with his hands full, and when a woman extended her hand, he handed her a pamphlet.

His opinion on Israel aside, I think many of us 'practising' people can learn a thing or two from Bedrick's story.

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