Funny thing was, Grandma was fairly tolerant of all the other groups she loathed. She was capable of saying, "I hate all schvartzes, but not her, she's a nice one." The Latino delivery boy who occasionally brought packages to the door was "a doll, even though he's a spic." And so on. But when it came to those Orthodox Jews, she took no prisoners: they were all worse than dogs and should die a horrible death.
With that kind of programming, naturally I grew up not liking them. Even now I find them a bit nutty, what with the women shaving their heads and wearing hats and wigs and ugly clothing, and the men sitting around in temple all day praying in Hebrew and doing little else, and those weird shawls with boxes hanging from them and the beards and the curly sideburns--let's just say they're not my cup of tea. But I try to keep an open mind, and if I ever met one up close I would not turn my head and spit on the ground, trust me.
So I read with interest an article in today's Wall Street Journal about the growing presence of the vermin---I mean the ultra-Orthodox--in Israel, and how they are presenting a problem to the general, non-crazy population. As more of them enter mainstream society and actually get jobs, they are bringing their own deep-rooted prejudices with them. For example, they see women as second-class citizens who must sit in the back of the city buses they use, which doesn't really fly with your typical Israeli woman. Most oppressive is their view of women in general, who they see as unclean, resulting in men-only sidewalks and separated waiting rooms at health clinics in their neighborhoods. Last week, a group of them harassed an 8-year-old girl on a suburban street: "The men spat on the girl and called her a prostitute for dressing in a way they considered to be immodest."
Again with the spitting? Maybe Grandma was onto something after all.