Rabbi turns anti-semitic slur yelled at him into learning opportunity

Posted at 9:36 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 21:40:18-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A newly-graduated University of Kentucky student directed an antisemitic slur toward a Rabbi, sparking a confrontation that had a positive ending, Rabbi Shlomo Litvin said.

Litvin was outside on his front lawn Saturday night when he says a young man, who was with a friend, spotted him and yelled out “you know we should kill all the k----”

“He saw a visibly Jewish person and thought the comment would be funny, that his friends would laugh,” Litvin said.

Litvin believes no act of hate should go unchallenged. He walked across the street to confront the student, who was partying after UK’s graduation. His neighbors, he said, were horrified. They’ve gotten to know Litvin over the years, who runs Chabad of the Bluegrass and UK Jewish Student Center.

One person told the graduate what he said was inappropriate, but others said it wasn’t a big deal, Litvin said.

He waited for 50 minutes until the young man came outside and spoke with Litvin, at one point, people came out to try and get Litvin to leave.

When the student came out, Litvin told him about the violence and crimes behind the words and that by using them he was associating himself with those crimes. He told the graduate about how his own family was nearly wiped out 80 years ago, and that real threats persist to this day.

“I have been personally threatened not by a kid across the street but by someone who threatened to do harm because I’m a Jewish leader in Kentucky,” Litvin said.

Antisemitic attacks jumped 34 percent last year to the highest amount the Anti-Defamation league has ever tracked, at 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment, and vandalism in the US.

By the end of the Rabbi’s conversation with the graduate, he was apologetic, Litvin said, explaining he was able to connect with him on a personal level, allowing for a very good outcome.

“I said it’s evident from your words that you have no Jewish friends, if you had, you would have never made that comment, so come make a Jewish friend, sit down for a coffee and we’ll talk,” Litvin said.