Yesterday could have been a day like any other day.

I spent the morning of Shabbat resting before my good friend and I drove into San Francisco, bought a tarjeta de regalo at Ritmo Latino, picked up another friend (friend 2) (who has the most fabulous gift wrapping abilities) and then on to celebrate the 40th birthday of a fabulous woman and former coworker. We enjoyed the beautiful weather, sat by the pier, drank wine, they ate and I watched them eat (gotta love pesach). Hours passed, and then friend 2 (the fabulous gift wrapper) and I were off to join another friend’s birthday gathering at El Rio. (yes, I say friend a lot, but I’m maintaining people’s privacy).

So, we hailed a cab, and were on our way from the Embarcadero piers to the Mission District.

The ride was fabulous, at first. We exchanged jokes with the cab driver who quickly settled into telling us stories as a native San Franciscan. Each area we passed surfaced a new story about the neighborhood, and films he watched in movie theaters now closed. Overall, I was loving him. He was a talker, and loved his city. Every street block offered a new possibility for nostalgic bantering, a quick smile in the rearview mirror, and a chuckle from my friend who knew more of what the cabby was talking about than I having grown up nearby in San Jose.

I zoned out for part of the ride, and starting coming to when we were a few minutes away from El Rio. Somehow the cab driver started talking about needing a patent lawyer, and how he would only get a Catholic lawyer. I didn’t really understand why he’d need a Catholic lawyer, nor did I really care.

My friend and I both silent since we didn’t really understand what was going on. As I was beginning to look out the window again, all of a sudden, there we were…following him through another Alice in Wonderland storyline. This time down a sinking hole.

He started talking about how upset he was that people were hating on the Pope.

“What a great job all these politicians and comedians are doing alienating half this country. You can’t just hate on Catholics like that and get away with it. You can’t just hate on our Pope,” he said, with his voice escalating. “All these comedians, these Jon Stewarts and Colberts going on and making fun of our religion, or Pope, no way! I won’t have it! That’s why I won’t get a Jewish lawyer.”

Through the rearview mirror, he looked me in the eye, and said, “What do you think about that? You’re Jewish….right?”

“Yes, I am,” I responded.

Still glaring at me, he quickly replied, “You need to stop hating on my people.”

Just as simple as that, I was his easy target.

I proceeded to respond calmly that I thought he was conflating quite a bit. I didn’t bother trying to correct him that actually Colbert is Catholic, and that Jon Stewart doesn’t exactly embody all Jews.

I was doing what I’d learned years earlier as an organizer, and having to work in a number of volatile situations…I stayed calm and worked to de-escalate his anger, while ensuring I was also OK.

I’ve long learned that in those heated moments, one can’t usually rationalize with bigotry.

And just as simple as that, I was also glad that my friend was there to see what was taking place.

So often I think my friends really don’t believe that anti-Jewish oppression takes place. I don’t think they believe that I deal with both subtle and not so subtle remarks, commentary, hatred and the like about being Jewish, living in this country. I also am aware that when moments like these do occur, that even fewer of my friends know how to respond.

This week has been filled with private conversations about trying to find the right words, trying to understand, wondering what one can say in moments when they hear and recognize anti-Jewish oppression.

As much as this week has also been filled with private conversations about how folks are still struggling with this conversation in the context of the Israeli occupation, in knowing that sometimes they still do not know how to speak when they fear that people will question their politics on all sides of what has become in so many areas of my life, only conflict, only escalation.

I know so many of us are surrounded by private conversations, that many of these opportunities give us strength, allow us to push ourselves and sometimes even break us down. In the end, many of these times are the moments I find something new, wearing through old beliefs, testing their strength, seeing how I’ve changed, grown, and still becoming my own. And witnessing how the one thing that I know will stay the same is this change.

These private conversations are often the places where I feel my heart shift the most, where I begin to genuinely believe in my convictions and who I am as a person all over again, with all the shifts. With all the change.