When I was about five years old, I saw a white straw hat at Target adorned with beautiful silk flowers and a pink ribbon. I immediately took a fancy to it and asked my mother to buy it for me. She refused, so naturally, I spent the next hour or so nagging until she finally threw up her hands in surrender.
“All right, fine,” she whispered. “Just don’t tell your grandmother I bought you a shiksa hat or she’ll kill me.”
Now, I had no concept of the fact that this was specifically being marketed as a girls’ Easter hat, nor did I understand that the word shiksa can be construed as offensive. I was just a kindergartener who wanted to dress up like Hayley Mills in Pollyanna.
So I didn’t realise, when my teacher complimented my newly-acquired accessory on Monday morning at school, that the correct response what not to say:
“Thanks! It’s my new shiksa hat!”
A letter was sent home to my parents, a discussion was had, and long story short, that’s how I learned about the two very different, long-standing traditions of gentiles buying special Easter clothes and Jews speaking in Yiddish.