Rockland County, NY – For the second year in a row, a black-faced Haman hung in effigy from a Spring Valley window in honor of Purim has sparked outrage for its blatant lack of sensitivity.
The doll that has since be removed, sported dreadlocks dressed in blue jeans and a white hooded sweatshirt as first reported by News 12.
Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder said that the homeowner did not realize that the Purim display would be offensive to others, removing the doll as soon as they were made aware of the problem.
The homeowner, who asked not be identified out of fear of retribution, expressed remorse over the incident, which was never meant to offend anyone.
They said their children have been hanging Haman in effigy on Purim for several years, although this year’s Haman was somewhat darker skinned than in previous years.
“The children didn’t realize that they were hurting somebody in the process because they didn’t realize what it represented,” the homeowner told TOT News.
“As we heard there was a problem we stopped everything in the middle of the holiday and took it down.”
The homeowner said that they live on a culturally diverse block and enjoy positive interactions with their neighbors, including handing out candy on Halloween to the children who ring their doorbell when they come trick-or-treating.
“We apologized right away,” said the homeowner. “We have a very good relationship with our neighbors and we do apologize for hurting other people.”
Wieder issued a statement offering his apologies for the Purim display, noting that while it may be rooted in tradition, offensive displays are inexcusable. He noted that the incident highlighted the need for greater understanding and respect between the many cultural groups that call Spring Valley home in order to encourage dialogue and build trust.
“I call for more education and sensitivity and coexistence between our neighbors wherever education takes place,” Wieder told TOT News.
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, director of Project Y.E.S. and a Monsey resident, said that the incident demonstrates a needed for greater cultural sensitivity.
“We ask our neighbors to be sensitive to our culture and our religious needs but we have to respect theirs as well,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “If you don’t teach our children what it is important to our neighbors, how are they supposed to know?”
Rabbi Horowitz issued a statement on Facebook condemning the Purim display and offering a personal apology to those who were offended by it.
He encouraged rabbonim, community leaders and private citizens to publicly distance themselves from the incident as a way of showing friendship, respect and tolerance.
“I hope that this was just tasteless, but people should speak up because our neighbors don’t know that,” said Rabbi Horowitz.