This story was the first story about the bullying that happened to me as I recalled it. It certainly set the tone for the stories that were to come when I started this site in 2007. As I look back on these stories with a fresh eye, I realize that, for many stories, there was little to nothing I could do to prevent the bullying or, in the case of this story, the hurtful words of some young children. Life has that happen and certainly plenty of African-Americans, Hispanics, and many other groups also have mean and debase things said about them. Part of my learning is to be less sensitive to these comments and look at them more holistically as a bigger problem. For example, it is interesting to me that now, in the US, we have an African-American sitting President, but more racial divide between the police and African-Americans than I can recall in a long time. We can’t change these things easily, so sometimes it’s best to handle them with less emotion and more discussion. ~Alan Eisenberg
As part of my understanding the bullying that happened to me, I’ve decided to chronologically tell the incidents of my being bullied starting from my earliest memories. As an adult, I often wonder if these stories are exaggerated from the mind of the child I was. I don’t believe so, but I’m sure the perspective is different. But that’s part of the problem!
As adults, of course we can rationalize what happened when we were children and see incidents as much less impactful. But it’s not happening to us as adults, it’s happening to us as children. And wherever we are emotionally and mentally when the incident happens, that’s what sticks with us. So, the incident I’ll describe below may not be that big, but it sticks with me. I don’t know why, but as a child, it was my first real brush with hate.
For the first 7 years of my life, I don’t recall any bullying. I don’t think that is unique. I feel like bullying really starts around mid to late elementary school. We moved in 1975 from Maryland to Lexington, Massachusetts. In Maryland I had lots of friends. Lexington was different. Somewhere in the first year there, I was walking down the street in my neighborhood when two twin neighbor girls who were maybe 6 approached me. They looked me straight in the face and said “you killed Jesus” and spit on me, then ran away.
I should say now that I am Jewish, but don’t wear it on my sleeve. It seems obvious to me that they found out I was Jewish and heard that Jews killed Jesus (not that uncommon back in the mid-70s belief). I’m not even sure I had talked to these two kids before and I just remember being embarrassed about being Jewish. What did I do? Why the hatred? To this day, I still don’t know if I can answer those questions. But I know that I’m not the only one who has heard that.
That’s the first incident of bullying I recall. You may say to me that was not bullying. But to me, it is. I didn’t do anything to provoke it.
Or did I?
It’s a question I do ask myself. What do you think? I will continue to add the stories of the bullying in my young life here. This is just the beginning. The ending, unfortunately leads me to this point, 28 years later, to want to tell the story and hear your stories, so we can all learn, and hopefully help others. Thanks for reading.