Rabbi Schindler’s father was a refugee to the United States from Germany in 1938. Schindler says that American border policy at that time made it difficult for refugees to enter, and she sees parallels between then and recent American immigration policy.
When President Trump signed an executive order on immigration, effectively blocking entry into the United States for people holding passports from seven majority-Muslim countries, Schindler asked Muslims in her community how she could help. A few suggested World Hijab Day, which took place this year on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Later, students from Schindler’s Holocaust in Film and Literature asked if they, too, could participate in World Hijab Day.
Schindler says she has been both praised and criticized for her participation, as she expected. What was surprising to her, however, were that some feminists criticized her with the belief hijabs are symbols of oppression toward women. The different perspectives have led her to use her participation as a learning experience. She didn’t realize how much a piece of clothing could mean such different things to different people.
While Rabbi Schindler came to Queens this year hoping to make a difference, she said, “You really can’t plan [to bring about change]. Injustices arise and you can take a stand, but you can’t plan for them.”