I remember a time back in the early eighties, when I would sometimes wear a baseball cap on my head so that I couldn't be identified as an Orthodox Jew. The reason for that was because, at the time, a kid of my age and build was liable to get beaten up by some of the tougher elements of the street for his religion. Of course my mother wasn't happy with it, but at the same time, I believe she understood the necessity. As time went on, it seems, the need for hiding lessened... and eventually I no longer needed to hide my religious affiliation.
After Ma'ariv last night, a fellow at shul was talking about some of the recent allegations of criminal activity that have been going on in the Orthodox Jewish world. Right on the heels of last week's arrests in Brooklyn and New Jersey, we had yesterday's news of mail thieves and welfare frauds who were arrested and publicly identified.
The man to whom I was talking to, a ba'al teshuva, told me that, because of all the recent scandals, he was becoming so embarrassed of being identified as an Orthodox Jew that he was considering a baseball cap to and from work. He was at the point where he no longer wanted to be visibly identified with Orthodox Jewry because of the recent actions of his co-religionists.
It's sad when someone has to cover up their religious identity out of necessity because he fears physical attack. But it's far worse when a person wants to hide it willingly out of embarrassment.
Something to think about.