The following message was posted by Gregory Andrus, on his Facebook page titled “Portraits of the Jersey Shore”.
My family and I went to the local bowling lanes on this rainy Tuesday. The place was filled to overflowing with people from the Orthodox community, as they had off in celebration of their Passover. I didn’t mind, it just meant that we had to wait longer to get a lane.
Now, elephant in the room, it is no secret that this community has been reviled wide and far by many people who live in proximity to the Orthodox community. So I was interested in seeing what my experience would be.
As my family waited in line for shoes, a father with little kids who were ahead of us saw we were waiting behind them and insisted we go ahead of them when it was their turn. Then this man pictured here, Joel, helped clear out the extra bowling balls so we would have room to put ours down. We settled into the lane next to theirs. He and I became fast friends, and after a while, our families began to cheer each other on when someone had a good score. We enjoyed each other so much. Everywhere throughout the bowling lanes, kids, moms, dads would all smile at me as I walked by and smiled at them.
I talked to Joel and asked him about the reputation the Orthodox community seems to have been given.
“People make assumptions about our entire community based on word of mouth. Sure there are some bad apples, but there are bad apples with any community — Mexican, Chinese, Christian. … I wish people of all different cultures would show each other respect,” he told me. “People want us to blend in with their version of what culture should be, but I think Mexicans should be able to keep their culture, and the same for the Chinese, or Christians and yes, us too.
“I wish people would stop being prejudiced just because they don’t understand someone else’s culture, and take the time to get to know each other without trying to change each other. We need to respect each other and live in peace with one another. We are all here on earth living together, and we are all loved by God.”