Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind issued an apology after a photo surfaced of him in black face during a Purim party. “To anyone who was offended, I’m sorry,” Hikind said. “That was not the intention.” He added, “If I had to do it all over again, I would certainly found something, another costume to wear.”
In the photo, which was posted by Hikind’s son on his Facebook page, Hikind can be seen wearing black face paint, sunglasses, an Afro wig and an orange jersey, apparently in an attempt to look like a 1970s hoops star. Also in the photo are his wife dressed as the devil and his son with a yin and yang painted on his face.
Hikind, 62, has a record of reaching out to the black community, as mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson pointed out. “For years, Assemblyman Dov Hikind has played a crucial role in bringing together leaders from the African American, Jewish, and other communities to stand against racism and anti-Semitism,” Thompson said. “Consistent with his record of service and commitment to our diverse city, I believe this incident calls for Assemblyman Hikind to issue an apology. I have stood with Dov on numerous occasions to take on the challenges that face our city. I look forward to doing so again.”
Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the BiblicalBook of Esther (Megillat Esther). Wearing costumes is one of many Purim traditions along with giving reciprocal gifts of food and drink (mishloach manot), giving charity to the poor (mattanot la-evyonim), a celebratory meal (se'udat Purim), and public recitation of the Scroll of Esther (kriat ha-megillah), in addition to the prayers and the grace after meals.
“Yes, I wore a costume on Purim and hosted a party. Most of the people who attended also wore costumes,” Hikind wrote on his blog.“Everywhere that Purim was being celebrated, people wore costumes. It was Purim. People dress up.”
Hikind’s son has since pulled the photo from his Facebook page.
“If blacks got dressed up as Hasidim, it would be seen as equally inappropriate,” Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League said.
Ironically, just two weeks ago, Hikindslammed fashion designer John Galliano as insensitive for wearing what appeared to be Hasidic-like attire.
Hikind has represented Brooklyn’s Assembly District 48 since 1982. A conservative Democrat, he is popular and well-regarded in his district, which includes Borough Park, home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside of Israel. The son of Holocaust survivors, he is a staunch supporter of the state of Israel. He has also been a vocal opponent of racial profiling.