Does picking up fallen change make Jews look cheap?

shylockI am walking down the street and suddenly I see penny on the ground, I resist the urge to bend down and grab it and keep walking. I think about the penny on the ground and walk back, casually looking around me and trying to see if I can bend down without anyone noticing. What is wrong with me, I debate whether I should remove my yarmulke to go in for the kill, and then just like that I pick it up and keep walking – no need to make a big scene, lest someone decide to call me a cheap kike or a shylock.

I thought I was the only one who went through the “I don’t want people to justify the cheap Jew stereotype” but it turns out that I’m not. In fact it turns out that plenty of people think along these lines as they ponder picking up pennies from the sidewalk, left on a counter or from the take a penny leave a penny bucket commonly found at gas stations. Jews around the world are faced with a decision every time the come across a free penny, if I pick this up will people be justified in their anti-Semitic stereotypes?

I rarely remove my yarmulke for any reason, I will walk into a bar, club, concert, movie or rural area devoid of Jews while wearing my yarmulke. I am a proud Jew and have even come to the conclusion that even if were not religious I would still wear my yarmulke proudly, my yarmulke is more cultural then religious – I like being different and yarmulkes are a great way to be, except when comes to fallen change.

College was especially hard for me, because college kids just leave change everywhere, I would find stray quarters by the parking meters, in the bookstore, on the lunch counters and in lecture halls – and I would have to do a reconnaissance mission before I could deem whether it was safe to pick it up or not.

Everyone picks up fallen change, but its sad that as a Jew I have to worry about what others think when I bend down to pick it up.