Today was Friday and the end of my first week of my final year at high school. I will be graduating next June and in hopefully, in September I will be attending New York University. My best friend, Daniella hopes to going there too. Initially, I had considered Howard University but Daniella and her parents were opposed to her enrolling in the university. It was because its reputation as a historic and prestigious African American institution had been damaged by charges of anti-Semitism on campus.
The university’s reputation started to go downhill from 1993 when guest campus speaker, Khallid Abdul Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam spoke about black empowerment and the atrocities inflicted upon people of African descent. He and a law student accused Jews of being prominent players in the slave trade and for being responsible for African Americans’ low socioeconomic status.
Since then, Howard has been continually attacked for allowing such outspoken and, in some cases, hated speakers to be on the university’s property. As a result the university’s reputation has suffered great damage.
“Since Muhammad’s speech, the media has portrayed Howard as a Jew-hating campus. My parents don’t want me to go there. I’ve applied to New York university. Besides, it would be closer to my home.” She and her parents lived in Staten Island.
I didn’t want to go to Howard because Gabriella wasn’t going there and I was troubled by the fact that they had invited someone who was Anti-Semitic to speak on campus. Besides, New York University wouldn’t be far from Springfield Gardens where my parents and I lived.
My father dropped me off at school and I waited for Daniella at the front entrance. She soon arrived and we lingered outside for a little while. “I applied to NYU,” I told her. “And now I’m just waiting to hear back from them.”
“That’s great. It would be so cool if we both get accepted.”
“Yes, it would be.”
“Are you still going to come home with me later?”
“Yes. And I brought my swimsuit with me.”
“Good. And you’re going to stay for dinner too, right?”
“Yes. I told my parents that I was going to go home with you after school and stay for dinner.”
“By the way, Sal is going to be there.” Salomone was Daniella’s older brother. They called him Sal for short.
My heart, predictable as it was, began to beat faster at the mention of his name. Daniella knew that I had a major crush on her brother and that was why she made a point of telling me that he was going to be at her family’s house that evening. He lived on his own in Manhattan. The first time I met Salomone, I was bowled over by how gorgeous he was. He was tall and well built. Daniela introduced us and we shook hands. My heart was beating really fast then too. I couldn’t stop staring at him and he seemed amused. He was very pleasant.
The first thing I asked Daniela when we were alone was, “Does your brother have a girlfriend?”
She shook her head. “No, he doesn’t.”
“How old is he?”
“Oh, what’s the use,” I said. “I’m just a high school girl and I’m not Jewish.”
“You have a point there. My parents wouldn’t approve of Sal or I marrying a non-Jew. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. Neither Joseph nor Moses married a Jewish woman and God didn’t have a problem with that.”
She was right about Joseph and Moses. Other examples of men marrying outside of their faith were Judah and his eldest son, Er, Salmon and his son, Boaz. Still, why would Salomone be interested in me, his kid sister’s best friend? I would be better off not having any romantic notions about him. There were plenty of nice African American boys at school. The problem was, I wasn’t stuck on any of them because I was stuck on Salomone.
Before I could reply now to her announcement that Salomone was going to be at the house later, the school bell rang. We quickly made our way to our classrooms.
The day went by very quickly and as soon as the last bell rang, dismissing the classes, we quickly packed up our belongings and left. We caught the bus which would take us to Daniela’s house. No one was there when we arrived. Her parents were still at work. We changed into our swimsuits and spent the afternoon swimming and lounging around the pool.
Her parents arrived around five-thirty. They greeted me warmly and while Daniela and her mother got dinner ready, I sat in the living-room with her father. We talked about school, university and religion. He was a very engaging and pleasant man. I liked him very much.
The doorbell rang at around six. “Would you mind getting that?” Mr. Levinsky asked me.
I nodded and got up. I went into the foyer which was still very bright. The sun hadn’t set as yet. I opened the door and my heart skipped a beat when I found myself looking up into Salomone’s face. “Hello,” he said pleasantly.
“Hello,” I mumbled and stepped aside for him to come in. As he passed me, I caught a whiff of his cologne. It smelled really nice and it suited him. I closed the door and turned to face him.
“Are my parents here?”
“Y-yes. Your father is in the living-room and your mother is in the kitchen with Daniela.”
I was about to walk past him and to join Daniel and her mother in the kitchen when he asked, “This is your last year in high-school?”
I turned to face him. “Yes.”
He rested his elbow on the staircase. “Have you decided which university you want to go to?”
“The same as Daniela. NYU is a good university. What’s your area of study?”
“Journalism and Religion.”
“Sounds very interesting. Why that particular field.”
“I love writing and I think writing about religion would be very interesting and eye-opening for me. And when I graduate from NYU, I hope to be able to work for a newspaper or magazine.”
“Religion would be a fascinating topic to write about. What is your religion?”
“I’m Seventh-day Adventist.”
“So, you worship on Saturday, the seventh-day Sabbath like us Jews?”
“I’m interested in learning more about your religion.”
I was about to reply when Daniela came into the foyer.
“Hello, Sal,” she said, greeting him with a big smile.
He leaned away from the staircase. “Hello, Dani.”
“Dinner is ready,” she announced looking first at him and then at me. She looked pleased as punch.
Salomone rested his book on the window seat and went over to the door mat to remove his shoes. Then, he walked towards Daniela and me, his gaze shifting from her to me where it remained. Together, we joined Mr. and Mrs. Levinsky in the dining-room.
Sources: Los Angeles Times; Property Nest; NYU