I am writing to express my profound dismay, though not shock, at reading of Talia Epstein’s schooltime experiences growing up here in the County.
I myself am a 20 year Prince Edward County resident of Jewish background and have encountered several displays of an anti-Semitic nature, perhaps because my surnames do not reflect my religious affiliation and the speakers felt quite comfortable in making their bigoted remarks. In any case, my situation would in no way mirror Talia’s. I arrived here as a fully matured adult and had been raised in a very safe and nourishing environment, including the public school system in which I was educated. So I was a fully evolved and confident woman who, when confronted with such stupidity, was able to dismiss the offenders as ignorant and backward in their thinking—people who needed to get off the island more regularly. In addition, I am surrounded for the most part here in the County with many new, warm and supportive friends.
How depressing though to think that Talia has spent her formative years enduring this vile behaviour (the reference to the yellow star so reminiscent of the Holocaust is particularly disturbing). It is likely that the young people in question had not actually ever seen another Jewish person and probably picked up ideas for these unacceptable ‘pranks’ from social media, or worse still, the family dinner table. One of the other weeklies had declined to publish Talia’s graphic reporting due to its being a “family newspaper”. But it is with the family that the discussion needs to begin, with the schoolboard officials to be following suit!
There is no doubt Talia Epstein is an incredibly resilient and determined young woman who will accomplish great things wherever she chooses to hang her hat. I do wonder if the parents of the purveyors of these vicious jokes can hope for the same from their children. And in case they need a reminder of the consequences of youthful indiscretions, I’ll refer them to our current Prime Minister to explain how things can come back in adulthood to bite you where you sit!
Elyse Graff McKittrick
Prince Edward County