We were sitting in a small café. It was freezing cold outside, and a mixture of students and residents of this local upper-class, slightly villagishy suburb bumped into the café to warm up – the café looked like every café, the muffins, the coffee, the soup and the people looked like every people. A bit of Christmas-decoration on each table, and a candle. “Where does your daughter go to kindergarten,” she asked. Without noticing, without intending to do so, I tried to blur the answer and indicated the kindergarten’s location (as if this would answer the question): “In the north.” She asked again. And I tried to answer in a way as casual as possible, pretending carefree naiveté: “It’s the community-kindergarten; the one in the north.” Silence. “It’s this community,” and I uttered the name of this specific Orthodox community, while starring at the menu, as if I intended to order another coffee.
Her judgment came in an instant: “This is problematic. Very problematic.” The word “problematic” was repeated a couple of times over the next two minutes, which did not include an identification of the exact problem. The problem is, apparently, obvious to every reasonable human-being: It is logically impossible that we do not agree regarding the fact that there is a problem. So why do you send your daughter to the problem despite knowing it better? Why do you not shield her from the problem? Why are you not doing her good? If those people send there kids over there, well they do not know any better, brainwashed, as they happen to be. But you? Academic middle-class German woman? Are you not a feminist?
On my way back into my office, rushing through the cold dark, I tried to concentrate on the cold piercing through my clothes. I placed my head on my desk, closed my eyes – I have no time for this shit, I have to work, I have to get my work done. But how does she dare to assume that I sacrifice my child? How does she dare to think that I am willfully not giving her the best? How does she dare to take the problem for granted, once and for all? What am I doing here at all? Why did I try to evade the answer – the exact name of the kindergarten – and why did I eventually refer to the name of my kindergarten as if it was a shame? Why do I try to pass as “not-problematic,” knowing fully well that this attempt is doomed in any case?