Apparent blackface photo for Purim stirs outrage in Rockland County

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MONSEY -

A photo that appears to show two Jewish boys in Monsey dressed up as African-Americans for Purim is sparking outrage in Rockland County.

News 12 sources say the photo was taken on Thursday as thousands of Jewish children in the Hudson Valley celebrated the biblical holiday.

Rockland NAACP President Wilbur Aldrige says he is concerned with the derogatory nature of the depiction of black people.

"Many African-Americans don't dress like this. Where you really see that kind of thing, with the pants down below, is in prisons," he told News 12.

It's not the first time both Purim and Halloween costumes in Rockland have sparked controversy. A few years ago, a black-faced doll depicting the Purim figure King Haman, with a noose around its neck, surfaced in Spring Valley.

In Clarkstown, a Halloween photo was taken of a couple dressed up in Hasidic-style apparel.

Gary Siepser, of the Jewish Federation of Rockland, commented on the controversy, saying in a statement: "As this alleged incident shows, there is much work to be done. Whether it is dressing in Hassidic garb at Halloween or blackface at Purim, adults should know better and have a responsibility to supervise and teach their children."

A representative for the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council also commented on the photo, saying it's not clear how the children's choice of Purim costume is "worthy of focus."

Aldridge says he hopes the photo will prompt sensitivity training between the two cultural groups.

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