*Photos of children in blackface and sporting shirts with “Black Lives Matter” written on the back during the Jewish holiday of Purim has sparked outrage in a New Jersey community.
Purim, which began Thursday and ended Friday, commemorates the survival of the Jewish community in ancient Persia, and children typically dress up as historical characters to celebrate the day. However, the costumes worn by what appeared to be four children in Lakewood — complete with Afro wigs — have left many simply perplexed.
Ocean County NAACP President Fred Rush said of the photos taken Friday: “Listen, that took some effort. For you to have in dashikis, Afro wigs and blackface, that took effort.”
A woman who lives in the town, which has a significant Jewish population, said she took the photos and posted them to Facebook. Rush said he drove over to the location to see for himself and found the parents. “I just said this is offensive, and I would hope you would take the time to teach your kids because it’s offensive not only to me but to a lot of people,” Rush said, adding that the parents said they understood his objections, but it wasn’t clear if they had the children change.
The incident led to a virtual school board meeting on the matter. Michael Inzelbuch is the general council for Lakewood, and said that being Jewish, he understood why the children were dressed up for the holiday. But he said that he didn’t know the identities of the children involved or if they were from Lakewood, and made no excuses for having them dress that way.
“It’s unacceptable and we cant have something, even if it’s just one, or two, or three or four (kids) — we can’t have something, it shouldn’t happen at all,” Inzelbuch said.
Rabbi Aaron Kotler, president of Lakewood’s Beth Medrash Govoha, the largest Orthodox Jewish yeshiva outside of Israel, said in an email he planned to arrange a meeting with Rush later this week.