Is there anti-Semitism in prison? As mentioned before, in prison we find all kinds of people. We read accounts in the newspaers about hate crimes, and therefore we can assume that there are bigots of all types out there.

Unfortunately, we seem to be hearing more about a group known as 'skinheads.' They are also in prison. In one facility that a Rabbi used to visit once a month, a small group of Jews attended his study group. One day a new inmate came. It was clear by the length of his hair that he was a 'skinhead.' The other Jews were quite concerned. The Rabbi paid no specific attention to this new person. During the study group he just sat and listened. The next visit with the Rabbi, this same inmate came again. This time he started asking questions. His questions were quite rude, to say the least. The Rabbi answered all his questions in a calm and polite way. It was obvious that this inmate had never spoken with a Rabbi before. After a few more study sessions, this inmate stopped coming. He still has 'very short' hair but has a respect, albeit a grudging one, for Jews.

Naturally, we cannot earn everyone's respect.

"On the street", in our normal every day life, we may never encounter these bigots. Life in prison puts people of all types together, on a continual, ongoing basis. So, one may definitely find anti-Semitism along with "anti" everything else. What to do? "On the street" everyone has probably come across people with whom they have had an unpleasant experience. After that, one either tries to help that person or, avoid any more dealings with them. The same is true in prison. The most important idea is to be consistent.

PO Box 60224 * S. Barbara * CA * 93160 * email