Above: File photo of effigies hung on Purim in Brooklyn by a haredi yeshiva. The effigies are all dressed like modern non-Jews in Brooklyn.
Haredi Yeshiva Hangs Blackface Doll In Effigy, Sparking Outrage
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The rosh yeshiva (dean) of a haredi yeshiva in Spring Valley, New York has issued an apology to the Mid-Hudson/Westchester chapter of the NAACP after his students hung a blackface dummy in effigy, the Journal News reported.
A blackface doll dressed in colorful clothing was hung out of a window at Yeshiva Degel HaTorah on Maple Avenue last month in celebration of Purim, the Jewish holiday centered around the biblical Book of Esther.
The hanging in effigy of the blackface doll was interpreted by many African-Americans who saw it as a depiction of a lynching.
The yeshiva claims the hanging in effigy of the blackface doll was meant to depict the hanging of Haman, the arch villain of the Purim story. Yeshiva Degel HaTorah’s rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Asher Schwab, said hanging Haman in effigy on the Purim holiday was not an uncommon practice.
“[The hanging of the blackface doll in effigy] represented the downfall of someone [Haman] who wished to destroy them [i.e., the Jewish people],” Schwab wrote in an email to the paper today.
However, Schwab failed to explain why Haman was depicted as Black when he lived in ancient Persia and was an Agagite – meaning he was from the city of Agag, located in the region. (Agag was also the name of two king sof the Amalekites, the ancient enemies of the ancient Israelites. They lived, however, in the Negev in what is today southern Israel.)
Wilbur Aldridge, the regional director of the Mid-Hudson/Westchester NAACP, called the incident “deplorable.”
"The incident I found to be deplorable as far as the content. However, once talking to them I found it extremely surprising that they had no knowledge of African-American history or lynching,” Aldridge reportedly said.
Schwab also claims that when yeshiva administrators saw the effigy hanging, the students were reprimanded and the effigy was taken down. Later, after finding out a video of the effigy hanging had been posted on Facebook, Schwab says the yeshiva contacted Spring Valley Police Chief Paul Modica. Modica then reportedly arranged a meeting between the Schwab and NAACP leaders, which took place at Modica’s office last week.
Aldridge told the Journal News today that he was "cautiously optimistic" about the situation and said a followup meeting with Schwab was planned for next month.