Jew, Not Jewish

April 23, 2008
By
“I am a Jew and I will be a Jew forever. Even if I die of hunger, never will I submit.” A young boy in the death camp of Terezin wrote this during the Holocaust and this poem, this single poem stays with me all through my life. I am a 16 year old Jewish girl in “mixing pot” America, and though I know that my life is amazing and should not be taken for granted, the acceptance that America prides itself on is not always seen in my world.
I live in New Hampshire, a small and subdued state where not many Jews reside anyway. I went to a Catholic middle school and I go to a school where wearing a Star of David and eating matzo on Passover is looked at with a confused glance. I have been looked at with disgust; have been talked too with blunt words that I will never forget, and I have lived too many moments that I wish had never happened.
Last summer I took the trip of a lifetime. I went to Israel with my camp. When there I got to live in a country that not only accepted my religion, but they didn’t view it as a handicap. When Shabbat came, everything shut down, when the day to remember the Holocaust came, everyone fasted. It was a wonderful thing to see, but also a bitter one. My life is good, but theirs is better in some of the only ways I think matter. They don’t question each other in their differences. They look at it and understand. Years of being pursed, shamed for believing in something different, makes them more tolerant, they try harder to help.
We met a man on this trip. He came to speak with us about the war that always seems to rage in the Middle East. He said something that struck me though. “Don’t say you’re Jewish, only Jews say that. Christians don’t say their Christianish. Muslims don’t say their Muslimish. We can’t hide behind a word that is a scapegoat itself. If you are a Jew, tell someone that. If you don’t like the word, don’t speak, but never make it less than it is. We have survived, and we should let the world know that.”
These words taught me something about myself. I was strong enough. I believed in my people and who we are. I loved a country that actually accepted people for who they were, and that land was my home. I remember those who fought for me to live like I do now, and I will continue to fight for those who don’t have what I have, and for better acceptance in our world today.
After all, I am a Jew. And I will be one forever.





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HCReingold said...
Sept. 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm
We need to stick together! Thanks for writing this.
 
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