Rabbi Says Booted From Jackson, Mississippi Restaurant for Being Jewish
An American rabbi said that he was thrown out of a Jackson, Miss., restaurant on Tuesday after the person taking his order found out he was Jewish, the local Clarion-Ledger reported.
The victim, Rabbi Ted Riter of Beth Israel Congregation, recounted on Facebook what he said transpired when he went to Wraps in Maywood Mart for lunch and ordered a salad. According to Riter, a man he believed to be the owner asked him, “A full size or a Jewish size?”
When Riter asked for an explanation, the man said, “It’s small. Jews are cheap and small. Everybody knows that.”
Shocked by the comment, Riter responded, “Did you really just say that?” The man then asked him if he was Jewish. When Riter replied in the affirmative, he was told to leave the restaurant.
“Expletives, F-bombs, and since I’d never been the recipient of that before, I was in shock, so I didn’t register it until the second or third time he told me to leave,” Riter said, according to The Clarion-Ledger. “It was a bit surreal. So I left.”
A man representing the restaurant, who identified himself as John, told reporters he was the owner of the establishment, and disputed Riter’s claim. When asked if he offered Riter a “Jew salad,” John replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“It was a misunderstanding. He didn’t know exactly what he wanted and we offered him our services, and that’s the extent of it,” he told reporters outside of the store.
John also claimed that Riter disrespected his business. When asked how, he said that Riter was “short.”
“I heard from the grapevine that he was a rabbi, that’s all,” the owner said. “I don’t know who’s a rabbi and who’s not a rabbi.”
A woman who answered the phone at the restaurant on Tuesday, who identified herself as Maria D., said the owner “has his own sense of humor,” The Clairon-Ledger reported. She added, “The owner has no racial problems. He is very friendly and would never do something like that.”
Riter, who moved to the Jackson area in July, has since deleted his Facebook post about the incident. He also said he did not identify himself as a rabbi when placing his order.
“I didn’t think it was pertinent. I’m the person who’s coming in to buy lunch. It shouldn’t matter if I’m Jewish, if I’m a rabbi,” he said. “If we’re going to have a business, I believe we should be open to anyone who wants to come in.”
“If he had said, ‘Ugh, I’m sorry,’ and laughed it off as, ‘I shouldn’t use that term’ or something of that nature, if he had just intended it as an off-color joke, I wouldn’t have appreciated it but I would have been fine,” he added. “But to turn around and tell me to get out of his restaurant… I can’t even offer a guess as to what he was thinking.”
If given the chance, Riter said he would be open to speaking to the man who refused him service so they can “move to a place of understanding and acceptance and embrace.”