This morning I had a very odd conversation with a financial administrator at the hospital where I receive most of my health care. As I have previously shared I have paid medical expenses in excess of my annual salary this year and borrowed money from the bank on top of it to take care of life-sustaining health care procedures and treatments. It’s the way things are and I am grateful to have had the ability to pay thus far though it is a struggle.
The lady I spoke this morning was wearing a t-shirt that read: “I love Jesus.” On her desk she had a day-by-day calendar featuring quotes by evangelical teacher Beth Moore. The crowing adornment in her office was the wall calendar from some Christian-Jewish organization purportedly uniting the two groups in support of Israel. Seems to me she had all the markings of a woman enamored with her G-d and belief structure. I am reminded to never be fooled by externals; things are not always as they appear. She almost got me.
As the conversation continued she asked about additional fees for yet to be rendered services. I pointed out I have pre-paid the remaining surgery and subsequent procedures and though I do not owe more, if I did, I do not have the money to pay at this point. I paid the amount requested in a written statement of services and that’s it for me.
The lady, rested her chin on her hands and said: “And I thought all you Jews were rich. “
I really did not know how to respond. Could she be joking? Even if she were, her words were beyond offensive. I naturally wanted to respond, perhaps in a not so pleasant manner. My non was plussed, to say the least. I remained silent for a couple of minutes and noted her smug look. I chose the path of walking away rather than going on the attack.
I pondered my reaction for awhile and knew silence was not the answer. It was for the moment the offense took place, but not for the long-haul. In the past few months my rabbi has been encouraging me to use my words in a positive way. Most days I try, though there are days that I lose my composure and speak my mind. I tend to regret those words spoken in haste.
As I thought on what my response should be, my mind went many places. The extremes were to do my best to expose this woman as the anti-Semitic she is and have her fired. The other thoughts were to try and have a “conversation” and perhaps educate her about the wrongness of her Jew stereotype comments. I settled somewhere in the middle. I called and spoke with a senior executive in the corporate headquarters for the parent company of the hospital. We had a candid conversation, he apologized and assured me he will address the problem and if I had any other issues, no matter what they are, to please not hesitate to contact him. He also agreed to meet with me and the employee to discuss the matter and to allow me to confront her anti-Semitism.
Any of you knowing me, know I am deeply offended by anti-Semitism and by our people who make excuses for it rather than confronting it. In my experience of today I had the opportunity to confront another bigot , or calmly make her aware of how offensive her words are. In the course of our meeting I will try to educate this woman about Jews and how wrong her perceptions are. If she chooses not to change then I’ll consider another course of action. For we Jews, it is never enough to be moral and kind ourselves, it is also our responsibility to help educate others so they can become moral and kind. We’ll see how it works out.