The picture [of the chasid seated between two women on the subway] accompanying Steve Lipman’s article on the PBS documentary about Jewish Americans (“The Power Of A Hyphen,” Jan. 4), reminds me of a joke I often tell to my Jewish friends:
A bearded man, much like the one pictured, gets on a bus and sits next to a woman who, upon seeing him and his garb tries as best she can to contain herself but simply cannot and turns to him after a few moments and says, “Sir, why is that you feel you have to go around dressed the way you are? I’m Jewish but I don’t feel the need to announce it to the world by my dress.”
He looks at her quizzically and says, “Madam, I’m not Jewish, I’m Amish.”
Barely missing a beat she looks at him and says, “I’m so sorry for the mistake and I want you to know how much I respect you and your people so much for keeping your traditions.”
A good lesson for us: Respect for ourselves and our fellow Jews fosters respect from others.