Blindfolded Jewish Man ‘Standing for Peace’ Gives Free Hugs to New York Strangers in Video
A social experiment filmed in New York City that encouraged peace and understanding amid a spike in antisemitic incidents was widely circulating on social media over the weekend.
Meir Kalmanson, also known as Meir Kay, filmed himself standing blindfolded in New York City, while wearing a mask, and with his arms stretched out to offer hugs to complete strangers. By his feet stood a sign with his name and the message, “I am a Jew. I stand for peace, how about you? Let’s share a hug between us two. And show the world what LOVE can do.”
Just 30 seconds after he placed the blindfold over his eyes, people began coming over to give him a hug, Kay said on Instagram. Some simply hugged him and walked away, while others exchanged words. One woman in the video — which was uploaded onto Kay’s various social media channels on Thursday — hugged Kay while telling him that she was Muslim. Another man hugged Kay and told him, “I’m a Palestinian-Muslim that stands against antisemitism. I’m educating my people every day and I’m doing the best I can.” Kay responded by thanking him for his efforts and calling him “a legend.”
Christians, atheists and many others from different ethnic groups, backgrounds and religions also stopped to hug Kay, he said on his Instagram page.
“With the rise of antisemitism I took to the streets to stand for peace, for understanding and connection,” Kay explained. “I had many open and honest conversations, which only reminded me how we have more in common than we are lead to believe.
Love and respect one another. Let’s make this world that much more of a peaceful and brighter, together.”
He added, “Through all the ruckus one can feel confused, afraid, angry, alone and so I felt an urge, no, a need to dial it back, to simplify and remind myself and possibly others that we all possess the antidote to the chaos we find ourselves in. Pause. Connect. Have a conversation. Give/receive a hug. As different as we may be we all want peace and respect.”
Watch the full video below: