The Horns Incident

It happened about 20 years ago. I was the best man at my friend’s wedding, in a smallish town in Illinois. Not a “small” town, but definitely on the small side, about 30 minutes from any town of significant size. In truth, it could have been upstate New York, only instead of orchards and beans, it was corn. It was a great wedding, and I had a lot of fun, but that’s not the point. That’s not what happened with the horns…

I was talking with one of my friend’s friends from the area. He was a very pleasant man, and we were getting on great. At one point, I don’t remember how, I mentioned that this was my first Christian wedding and that I was Jewish. He casually admitted that I was the first Jew that he ever met and asked me “did you have your horns removed at birth?”

As you can imagine, I was shocked. I laughed, thinking that it was a joke. But he was serious about it. He honestly believed that Jews were born with horns and that we had them removed along with circumcision. I knew that this was a thing that people believed hundreds of years ago (there’s a passage in Exodus that many people interpret as Moses having “horns of light” and they use that as proof. Others say it’s a pact with the Devil. people can justify anything if they try hard enough and cherrypick information that supports their belief). But this was 2002!! This was America!!

This was madness.

Where did he hear this? From his family? From his community or church? From his teachers or other students? Or from all of them.

He had never met a Jewish person, never talked to one, never interacted with one. Because he had no exposure, there was nothing to alter his perspective.

I’m willing to bet that there are thousands of people in America that still believe this. I shudder at what else they believe, and not just about Jews.

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