An Op-Ed from our PR Coordinator

My name is Jacqueline, and I write most of the articles you see on our website and Facebook pages.

I am 22 years old and a recent graduate of the Florida State University – Go Noles!

I am a reform Jew from a Jewish background. I received a Hebrew name, a beautiful Broadway-themed Bat Mitzvah, and observe holidays including Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Chanukah.

I love Judaism. I find it a beautiful religion.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same – by sixth grade I had already been asked where my horns were and about my (obviously cheap) spending habits. I had been told by a friend that my thick eyebrows were normal for “people like me” because her mother had told her “all Jewish girls are hairy.” This was middle school, and the first time I realized that there is still antisemitism in this world. Even unconsciously, my friends all knew and believed the Jewish stereotypes because they had heard it at home or from others.

Now of course this was small potatoes (latkes?) compared to my first lessons on World War 2 and the Holocaust. I may have just had an innocent mind as a third grade student, but I found it incomprehensible that there could be this level of hate for any group of people. The history lessons and photos that made me realize that this had happened gave me nightmares for weeks. 15 years ago I was waking my mother up in the middle of the night out of fear of the resurgence of such people. I remember her calming me down, telling me that it was in the past and would not happen again.

I believed her. I was not old enough to really keep up with the news, and I was sure that as long as we learned about history we wouldn’t repeat it- how could we? Who would want something so horrible to occur again?

If so, it couldn’t be against the Jews- people realized we’re okay, right? Hatred over?

Wrong.

Charlottesville is now a week ago. We are going back to our normal lives.

Except for those of us who are not. For the Jewish community, this is a reminder that antisemitism is still present and there are many who would prefer us dead rather than coexisting. Photos of neo-Nazis performing the Nazi salute and men waving flags embroidered with Swastikas will be forever ingrained in many of our heads. And it is horrifying.

Part of me now wishes I could be as naïve as I was 15 years ago, but I know I can’t. Ignorance may be bliss, but it will not lead to any productive changes.

If you are against this, make your voices heard.

Whatever your background, don’t stand for antiemetic comments. And regardless of your religion, don’t feel ashamed of your system of beliefs.

WE ALL ARE IMPORTANT.

Educate those around you, without pushing your beliefs on them. Recognize those in the world that support us as much as we support each other. And lend a hand back to support them.

We are all “one nation under God…Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

INDIVISIBLE. ALL. ONE NATION.

I have found so much acceptance in the world around me.

I have watched a romance bloom between a Conservative/Orthodox Jew and her formerly Baptist best friend. Come next year two of the most beautiful women I know will be getting married, a right granted to them by a long overdue SCOTUS decision.

My fiancée is a Methodist, and doesn’t question going to Hillel with me any more than I would question going to church with his family when we are in town.  Both our families can welcome the other and see people before religions.

I have hosted Chanukah parties that had Jews as the minority of attendees purely because those around me wanted to learn about Judaism- and eat the food that came with it.

I am still hopeful of a world without antisemitism. I will not live in fear of who I am.

To end, I am including lyrics from the Israel national anthem, Hatikvah:

“As long as deep within the heart a Jewish soul stirs, and forward, to the ends of the East n eye looks out, towards Zion.

Our hope is not yet lost, the hope of two thousand years, to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

The Jewish community has overcome multiple periods of enslavement and banishment, a 40-year trek through a dessert, multiple extermination attempts, and various disgusting traditional foods (looking at you, chopped liver).

We will be here. We will stand strong. And we will continue to overcome.