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Passing: Maybe not as “White” but Still Passing for Something

Today I had a three hour salon appointment and one of those hours was spent listening to my stylist complain about Those Old Jewish Ladies. Only five or so minutes was spent with her regaling me with the tale of how she pretended to be Jewish to get out of a speeding ticket.

As she was flat ironing my hair and complaining about the Horrible Old Jewish Ladies who do nothing but complain I sat smiling and wondering if I was doing the right thing. Should I have gotten up from the chair with my hair half done and caused a scene? Should I have said to her, “I’m Jewish.” Should I have goaded her along and asked her how she knew that they were Old Jewish Ladies? Was it their big noses, thrifty ways or perhaps they stopped to daven halfway though a service?

derjude the jew incitor of war poster

I’m listening and wondering what it would really feel like, what it would look like if I walked out of a salon, head half finished and simply refused to pay. I sat back and every scenario simply had me thinking that I’d look like a prickly ass. Now, I’m not sure that this is the truth but every scenario I imagined didn’t have me looking like a good guy.

When I left the salon I updated my facebook status


The comments that came in were predictable. There were quite a few exclamations Wow and Shut up being popular. I think people were left speechless (as was I).

My friend Navah wanted to know which salon. Quite a few other people asked me to Yelp review it. I’m not going to do that, though I did sit in that chair and know that I could cripple this woman’s business. I’m not reviewing my anti-Semitic hairdresser online because she doesn’t own the salon. Yes, she’s been there a good long time, yes, she’s a jerk, but salons are gatherings of professionals and I don’t want to try and shoot my hairdresser in the kneecaps, miss and then shoot one of her coworkers in the heart. As a side note Navah is incredibly beautiful. If she says to see Diane at Piero salon we all probably should.

This is all figuratively speaking folks. I’m not shooting anyone any time soon.

I don’t have a good reason for sitting there and listening to her nonsense. Not only did I pay and leave, but I left a generous 18% tip (you know… generous by Jewish standards).


My friend Nina Grimes Stewart had a clear vision of me either leaving after a one liner or (more accurately) realizing there’s no point to it anyway. I’m not one to keep things to myself. Trust me, my life could have been a lot simpler with some tongue biting. What struck me about Nina just knowing that some discussions aren’t worth having is that Nina’s father is Milton Grimes, the iconic civil rights attorney. If Nina, who has lived a lifetime of racial discrimination stories at her dinner table, could see quickly and clearly that this woman wasn’t worth my breath I felt vindicated of my inaction.

Sometimes there are discussions that can’t be had. Sometimes I recognize that I’ll be seen as shrill or sanctimonious. Sometimes it’s just not the right audience.

I love Shannon for hitting the nail on the head with her response.


I hear stories of people passing for whatever the majority is. I guess today I passed for Not a Jewish Lady. 

15 thoughts on “Passing: Maybe not as “White” but Still Passing for Something”

  1. My favorite response when people say “oh, you don’t LOOK Jewish” is “oh yeah, I cover my horns well.” 

    I mean really, people. What century are we living in again? But kudos to you for tipping and defying ::that:: stereotype as well. And for being a far better person than your hairdresser. <3

  2. i have been at an event where most everyone was Jewish…and listened while someone talking to me criticized “goyim” for their taste in clothes…when all of a sudden she remembered that my husband was Jewish but I was not. She quickly apologized and I said, “no problem”. There is still so much prejudice out there and sadly I don’t think it will change anytime soon.
    Ignorance is sad…I am sorry that you had to experience this…but am glad that you reacted the way you did. 

  3. You are amazing….
    This is why we moved from OC..I had heard “Kike” or “jew him down”
    so many times growing up down there-its why I love our community where we are surrounded by our kind and the kids can go to jewish schools…
    love you sweetie xxx

    1. If it was me I would write the owner of the salon a letter and let them know who is working there. I don’t know that I would ask for the stylist to be fired or any other sort of action.

      But I think that it is worth mentioning. Beyond that we can debate whether a word to the stylist would have changed anything or not.

      It is never pleasant. I have had a couple of run-ins with people who didn’t know that I am a Yid too.

  4. Great insight into when the right time is to say something and when is the time to bite your tongue. I have been struggling with wanting to say something to a few co-workers every time I hear comments about Jews but then I think is it going to stop them? It is obviously a way of thought which is sad to me.

    Growing up being teased by others for being Jewish, I dealt with anti-semitic behavior. It’s a sad world that claims we can be who we want to be but different religions can’t even be accepting of one another.

    Thank you for sharing. I hope others see and imitate your maturity in handling an ignorant person who needs to get a clue.

  5. I’m not a gorgeous woman, but I still recommend Rosie at Vered Salon on Melrose. She does wonders with cuts, colors, and extensions. Mention me and get a discount.

    I think it’s fine to Yelp this. If the whole salon has problems and the owner addresses it, there could be a market correction. But at the very least you should let the owner know why you won’t be back or why you will be back, but will never use that hairdresser again.

  6. Hey… didn’t you write a similar post like this not that long ago about keeping your mouth shut when you knew you should say something? Hon, it’s time to step up and say something. You don’t have to be shrill, and you shouldn’t care what bigoted people think of you. At the very least, you can say, “You know? I’m not comfortable with this conversation. Can we just talk about something else?” or “I don’t agree, but what about the [weather, sports team, TV show, other neutral topic].” Or just, “Uh-huh” and then change the subject. A protest doesn’t need to be loud to be heard. 

  7. Here’s what bothers me. The fact she felt like it was okay to talk this way, period. Whether she was confident you weren’t Jewish or not. I’m not surprised really, that you didn’t say anything. I think you were in a vulnerable position and had she been bitching about someone/something other than “Old Jewish Women” maybe you would have been more outspoken? Or would the scissors/hot flat iron in her hands make you think twice? I consider myself very outspoken, but walked away from a situation simiar to this without saying a word and really felt disappointed in myself. Like I had let myelf down as well as the “victim” in the situation.

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