KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
October 21, 2005 - י"ח
are two Talmudic statements regarding silence. One
is commonly translated as, "Silence is Golden."
That's the one that most people know about. The other,
lesser known saying, translates to "Silence implies
agreement." If one observes something - anything
at all - and they voice no opinion about it, they are on
some level agreeing to whatever is happening. The rationale
for this statement is that they would undoubtedly say
something if they didn't agree.
are two seemingly contradicting statements about the value
of silence, a smart person must differentiate when one can
be silent and when one cannot be silent. One must make a
distinction when one is allowed to be passive about a
situation and when one must be active; when one can accept
the status quo and when one must be outspoken about an
New York City
school system should
think about the consequences of their failure to invoke the
correct "silence" adage. In a recent incident the
school system failed to protect and educate children by
invoking the maxim "Silence is golden" when they
should have been loudly condemning the events that recently
took place at a school in Brooklyn, NY.
and Lisa Brown moved their family from
Oklahoma to Park Slope, NY. They moved so Ken, a
native of Brooklyn, can find a job. The children were
brought up in white Oklahoma and the parents who moved
into racially diversified Prospect Heights, thought
this is a chance for their children to not only learn
about diversity, but live it.
enrolled their children in the all-black
neighborhood school, Ebbets Field Middle School in Crown
Heights, hoping that their dreams would become
reality. So much for their dreams of racial diversity.
The Brown family was called names, attacked, beaten, and
chased into traffic by the other students in the school.
Much like Linda Brown in1954 who needed the protection of
the National Guard to go to an all white school, this white
family, ironically also named Brown, could have used
National Guard as protection in the all black school.
shameful! Here are white people who were ready to
live Martin Luther King's dream of a diversified world
without color and they were tormented and their lives were
put at risk. How disgraceful that we have regressed to a
time when children needed the help of the National Guard to
integrate the Public School system!
only more shameful is that until the family
contacted news agencies with the story - no one listened to
them. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. The teachers, the
principals, and the department of education ignored their
when the story broke in the news the silence from
the black leaders and the rest of the black community was
deafening. Where were their protests? Their proclamations
for a color blind society? Is their silence the silence of
agreement? Children are astute. Even if adults can't
differentiate between silence that is golden and silence
which implies agreement, children usually can.
this recent story takes our city back one step in race
relations. It's disappointing to me that while we think
we're making progress in the area of tolerance among the
races, it seems we're going backward. What hurts even
more is that this incident involved children and the silence
from the adults implied agreement.
the lesson the children in the school would have learned had
they seen the same people who make public declarations and
protest when one of their own is discriminated against,
speak out in the face of this discrimination - regardless of
the color of the players in the story. The silence of
support made for a lost opportunity to show the children
that we care about people regardless of color. That
opportunity is gone forever. How sad!
more articles by Rabbi Hecht
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