Getting off the train to work at Chancery Lane, I walked past a group of five Hassidic Jews exiting the same train. Now, these guys already stood out to me as they were in full stereotype mode, and in my naiveté, I had never seen a Hassidic Jew before and was overwhelmed by the accuracy of tv portrayals.
So, a second glance was justified. A third, however, was required when all five men stopped, formed a circle (we’re still on the platform mind), and waited while one looked left-right, then pulled out a piece of paper from a manila envelope. Once they’d all had a look, they glanced at each other, nodded, and continued the way I was going.
Now, there are constant messages on the tube to report anything suspicious to a member of staff or Police, and I was starting to wonder if this qualified. A member of staff appeared to be walking towards them and I breathed a sigh of relief at the consternation on his face that surely meant he was to address them. But no, must have been the general irritated guise of the London Undergrounder that I read in his features, as he walked on past.
So what do I do? Is this a terror plot about to unravel before me in revenge for the centuries of hatred that England showed towards Jews before the Germans made such approaches tastelessly gauche? Or have these totally innocent guys just consulted their version of google maps on their way to the London Eye?
What would you do? For in this guilty-ridden post-WWII world, how do you report a suspicious Jew?