Dear Editor,

I write in response to the letter to the editor from the Café Alma Team (published June 22, 2023) regarding their hosting of a “Drag Tea Party and Story Time for kids 5 and under” on July 2.

Based on Café Alma’s letter it appears I was not alone in questioning why the Federation would promote and Café Alma would host a drag queen event for babies, toddlers and kids under 5.  The Café’s letter does little to answer that question and contains numerous fallacies. The Café has taken the position that the shande far di goyim here is not in their hosting such an event, but rather the objections to it! 

The authors begin by implying that all Jews should love thy neighbor “unequivocally.” I do not believe Judaism requires us to love murderers or child abusers unconditionally. I certainly do not. Rather, Jews are called to pursue justice and, as the authors point out, be a light unto the nations. Oddly, the authors believe Jews bring light to the world when we have drag queens “read” to 3-year-olds, but bring darkness to the world when we object to such odious practices.

The letter goes on to erroneously and absurdly claim that it is a “PRIVATE EVENT.” As a restaurant, Café Alma is a public accommodation. Further, the event was publicized by emails sent and website’s maintained by the Federation, which make clear that “all are welcome at all of these events.” Such is not a private event.

Café Alma attempts to assuage the outrage it received by claiming that drag queen story hours are popular and assuring us that their drag queen will be “PG.” For better or worse, drag is inherently sexual and thusly, while optional for adults, is inappropriate for children. The Café claims that this event is designed to make children interested in reading, but what is more likely to occur is getting them interested in drag. Indeed, if you were five and a man dressed as a woman were reading to you, how would you react? Frankly, I’d probably be less interested in reading and more interested in asking “why is that man dressed as a woman?”  Indeed, that’s the point of the event. Most troubling, exposing young kids to sexualized situations is the hallmark of sexual grooming.

Finally, the Café assures us that all is well because no parent would deliberately harm their kids, so we needn’t worry. That statement is evidently false to any sentient person who has read a newspaper or watched the news. Last week a father in Clermont County executed his three young sons. But even in the realm unintentional harm, the authors err. Recently vegan parents had their babies removed from their care as, while they believed the diet they fed them was the best, their kids were severely malnourished. To be sure, few who do harm believe they are doing so.  To cite one famous example, on the road to murdering and enslaving hundreds of millions the Communists of the 20th Century believed they were doing good.

In a confused coda, the authors finish by telling us that the Torah’s prohibition on cross-dressing is “irrelevant” while admonishing us not to slander or gossip. We’re fortunate to have the owners of our local kosher restaurant available to tell us which parts of the Torah are optional and which are not. When I plead for Café Alma not to host a harmful drag story hour for kids — an event they admit they are hosting — I do not gossip or slander, but rather describe reality. I fear that this event and letter are demonstrative of the fact that reality has slipped away from too many in our community.

Ben Rodriguez

Loveland, OH