I live near a lot of Jewish people, extra-concentrated back to Adam Jews where women shave their heads. They wear wigs, often of human hair, which makes no sense to me on so many levels. If God gave you the hair in the first place, why is God offended you have it? I can ask the same question in regards to circumcision too, but I suspect I'm already getting myself in trouble.
There's a yeshiva, a rabbinical seminary, at the end of my street. Oddly, it's next to a Catholic seminary. Cleveland, Ohio has one of largest Jewish populations in the US. (Wikipedia info here) Most of these people are unremarkable in the ways of let's say Mormons to Presbyterians. Okay, you go to temple instead of church. That's interesting, but it doesn't impact me unless I go to a wedding or funeral. I keep mostly kosher because my grocery store is Jewish. I'm told kosher meat is the result of better animal treatment so that makes me happier.
The Jews in my neighborhood stand out in the same kinds of ways as Amish people stand out. They dress funny. Amish women have crisp, white bonnets and Jews have those ugly wigs. They keep to themselves and the mystery of it all makes me want to know what they're keeping from the rest of us. On Fridays, the Jews walk in a long black line to temple. Even that's a mystery because I don't know where they go. It looks like they're walking to the grocery store. There isn't a building with "Temple" written on it.
I go out of my way to start conversations with them, particularly with the women, but I keep to non-objectionable topics like "Nice day!", "Horrible weather!", "Cute baby!" One of these days I'm going to break past the facade and get one of them to talk to me for real. The kids are friendly enough but they're just kids. I assume they haven't learned all the secrets yet.
I did a DNA test a while ago and found out I'm 2% Jewish (and less than 1% Asian). It's beyond me where my ancestors found a Jewish Asian in colonial America, but it pleases me to have a little cultural diversity in my genes. It doesn't give me any insight into my yeshiva neighbors, but it adds to my curiosity about them.
I think, what's the point of all this rambling? Should I start over and say something else that's worth saying? Then I think, maybe that is the whole point. People are different. We're curious about the differences. We want to communicate and learn. Well, quite a few of us do at any rate, but it's hard to have those conversations because there's so much history of wars, prejudices, and so on. We fear talking because we don't want to offend, but when we don't talk we don't understand each other. Too many talk about building walls instead.
I've been heavily bothered by the increase of racist activities in the news lately. Seems to me the best way to get past those issues is to talk without the intention, but risking the possibility, of offending. Hopefully the spirit of community can help us get past any inadvertent offenses and we all live happily ever after. We should at least try.