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I Was Asked to Hide My Star of David by a Dunkin’ Donuts Cashier

January 14, 2024 marked the 100th day of the hostages being held in Gaza. On this deeply emotional day, Jewish people from all over the world came together to stand united against Hamas’ attack and combat Jewish hatred. Unfortunately, for me, as a Jewish woman, it was also a day my Jewish values were put to the test when I experienced a shocking moment of antisemitism.

I wear a nice-sized gold Star of David around my neck proudly. Since the war started, I made the decision not to take it off — despite all the warnings and concerns from my family and friends. I realized it was a safety concern for them, but wearing the Jewish symbol became a way for me to feel empowered in my Judaism and take pride in who I am despite the rising hostility. If anything, I felt prouder to wear my star than ever before. It was more than just an accessory — it was an extension of my identity. I knew it might put me in a dangerous situation, but I also knew that stepping away from my values and beliefs would make me feel even worse. 

On January 14, I traveled to New Jersey with my family. On our way there, we stopped by Dunkin’ Donuts to get some coffee. When we walked into the coffee shop, only two men were working. They seemed very engaged in a conversation with the other customer, so we decided to order through the in-store kiosk. However, as one of the workers finished his discussion, he offered to assist us. My boyfriend went up to him and started ordering first, and as he was finished with his order, I started ordering my drink. As I was speaking, the cashier interrupted me and said: “I would suggest you cover it (my Star of David) up. I personally don’t care, but my colleague over there is from Egypt, and he has very strong opinions on what’s going on (referring to the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th). I just wouldn’t want him saying anything to you and making you leave the store.” I was at a loss for words. When I heard other people talk about them experiencing antisemitism, I felt as if it would never happen to me. I guess, somewhere deep in your heart, you truly want to hope these stories aren’t real, that they’re exaggerated or not as rampant.

After he asked me to hide my Star of David, I did it. Immediately afterward however, I felt ashamed of my cowardice. In the moment when my beliefs and values were tested, I simply backed off. However, it also didn’t feel right to beat myself up for it. I was scared and felt like in that second, I could be in danger. This situation made me wonder whether the people warning me about wearing my Star of David were right. Maybe I should’ve taken it off in the first place. But when I got back to the car and told this story to my family, they were enraged. They were mad for me and how this guy had treated me. I was truly shocked by their reaction as I didn’t expect them to feel so strongly about what happened. 

At the same time, their reaction reassured me that I’d done the right thing by not taking my necklace off when the war started initially. It gave me newfound strength not to hide in the future. Through the pain and shock, I felt even more grounded in my Jewish identity. While it’s difficult to experience, hate and resentment also build resilience in oneself and strengthen our faith and beliefs. 

We called the store afterward to file a complaint and while the manager apologized and offered us a free drink, that was the best he could do. The employee gets to keep his job. It was disheartening. I had no interest in a free item, I wanted justice. It was about the principle.

Being a Jew in New York, New Jersey, or the United States in general feels more dangerous than ever. I moved to the United States from Russia just a few years ago, where domestic antisemitism has always been rampant. When I moved, I set out to wear my Judaism with pride. That mission was successful but now it’s being questioned again. In the current circumstances, being scared of showing your Jewish identity isn’t a horror story our grand or great-grandparents tell us anymore but a harsh reality. It’s existing right here under our noses. Even so, I won’t back down. The Star of David is here to stay.

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10 comments

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  • Avatar photo Nancy says on January 30, 2024

    Writer should contact Dunkin’ Donuts corporate off an an lodge an official complaint!

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Jewinswitzerland says on January 31, 2024

      Who should lose his job?
      The non-Egyptian worker who assumed his colleague might react to the “Israeli” symbol and tried to warn the customer to prevent her from hearing hate speech or Anti-Israel sentiment?
      Or the Egyptian worker, who – whatever his
      opinions about the war in Gaza and the civilian casualties – may have had no intention whatsoever of saying anything hateful, especially to a customer?
      By the way, a lot of people from Egypt actually don’t care for Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood (who have made trouble in Egypt in the past). There may be exceptions, but Egyptians’ sympathy is normally for civilians, not for terrorists.

      Reply
      • Avatar photo Leigh Halprin says on February 7, 2024

        Not caring for Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood does not mean the vast majority of Egyptians do not hate Jews. The ADL Index on Global Antisemitism found in 2014 that 75 % of Egyptians held antisemitic views in 2014. That number has grown exponentially. News media and entertainment are rife with antisemitic imagery and rhetoric.

        Reply
      • Avatar photo Eileen says on February 7, 2024

        Never Ever!!! This is USA!! I don’t remove my Star of David!!!!!

        Reply
        • Avatar photo Jeffrey says on February 8, 2024

          Go back to the store and this time where your Magen David proudly.
          What is the location of the store? I’m from New Jersey and I need a cup of coffee.

          Reply
  • Avatar photo Yael says on January 30, 2024

    I want the location of this particular store. This is not okay. That person should absolutely lose his job. A free drink is … I mean this isn’t a small thing.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Anonymous says on January 31, 2024

    I don’t understand… it sounds like the worker who spoke to you assumed his coworker would be antisemitic just because he was Egyptian and pro-Palestinian? I myself am pro-Palestinian and not antisemitic. I don’t think it’s right to stereotype someone like that, especially to go so far as to demand they lose their job. If the Egyptian man had actually done or said something to you that’s a different story. But it isn’t fair to assume things about him especially something as horrible as antisemitism.

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Alob says on February 2, 2024

      Saying you are ‘pro-Palestinian, but not antisemitic’ is very ambiguous. It might be better to succinctly express your overall viewpoint, rather than acting as arbiter of your own pro-/anti- qualities. Unfortunately, much antisemitism is not self-aware.

      Reply
  • Avatar photo Karen says on February 7, 2024

    No one would ask a xtian to hide their symbols of idolatry. No one would ask a Muslim to take off her hijab. And if the victims of the October 7 attacks were Italian, the entire world would support them.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo jan says on February 8, 2024

    I would have said….”I assume your co-worker is Muslim; do you ask those wearing crosses to hide them also?”

    Reply

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