Ky. rabbi speaks to lawmakers who used anti-semitic phrase in committee meeting

Ky. rabbi speaks to lawmakers who used anti-semitic phrase in committee meeting
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 10:59 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) -Two Kentucky republican lawmakers have issued apologies after using anti-Semitic language during a capital projects and bond oversight committee meeting Tuesday.

Representative Walker Thomas, of Hopkinsville, and committee chairman Senator Rick Girdler, of Somerset, both used a phrase in reference to bargaining for a lower price.

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, of Chabad of Kentucky says he has spoken to both lawmakers in wake of their comments.

“These words definitely have harm in our community,” said Rabbi Litvin. “Terms like it are used by Chaucer in the “Canterbury Tales” as he describes malice, greed, and cheating in two characters and defines them as Jewish characters.”

Rabbi Litvin says this is an opportunity to educate, saying the lawmakers didn’t make the statements from malice, but ignorance.

“Having that opportunity to sit down, both were very gracious. we had a great conversation, it wasn’t rushed in any way, and it didn’t feel performative. They genuinely felt bad about the harm these words had caused. There was no malice behind them. They were happy to take the time to understand the Jewish community’s perspective.”

In a statement to WKYT, Girdler says, “I am deeply sorry if I offended anyone. I have no hate or malice in my heart for anyone in the Jewish community.”

Thomas told the Herald Leader he had heard the phrase his entire life and apologized to anyone he might have offended by using it.

“I sincerely regret using that term and apologize to anyone harmed by my use of it,” he said. “This is not who I am, nor is it what my faith leads me to be. It is a phrase I have heard throughout my life, but this experience has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the impact that words have and the fact that we must be smarter today than we were yesterday.”

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