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Why I Was Afraid to Claim Judaism

November 7, 2018

Growing up, I remember my mother sitting me down and telling me I was Jewish and I didn't really understand anything about Judaism and what it meant to be Jewish. In my household, we didn't really "practice" a certain religion but my father is Catholic and my mother, obviously Jewish. My brothers and I were not baptized because our parents believed we were allowed to pick our own religions that resonated with us and what we truly felt was the beliefs we wanted to follow. I grew up in a town that solely practiced Christianity and Catholicism, so while I was younger, I didn't want to be the odd one out of the group practicing Judaism (even though Christianity started because of Judaism).

 

I tried so desperately to be a believer in the Christian faith, but it just never stuck with me and I really was just trying to get into it because I didn't want to tell people I was Jewish. At the time I was in grade school, the jokes about Jews were really at a strong point and I was scared to claim Judaism because of the things I have heard. Me being a brown Asian woman, I already had the jokes about being a "chink" or the classic "is it true you eat dogs and cats?" or the constant racist tone of voice people used to sound Chinese or Filipino, saying things that do not make any logical sense. I remember sitting at the lunch table and hearing kids tell a not so funny "joke" about Jewish people. He shared in a sarcastic tone, "Hey, you guys know what the difference between Santa and a Jew is? Santa comes down the chimney." I could not believe what I heard because that was such a vile statement to make and of course the phrase "it's just a joke" followed quickly after. I was terrified to tell people I went to school with that I was Jewish because these "jokes" are extremely hurtful and disrespectful, especially coming from a person who doesn't identify with the group.

Mentally, I could not take the constant harassment of my cultures and religion, so at that point in my life, I decided to keep that information quiet. I was already regretting telling people I was Asian because it was becoming absolutely ridiculous having to deal with constant racist statements made. People should not have to feel the need to hide who they are because of ignorant people making jokes about things they simply do not understand. Everything is a "joke" until it's not and you affect someone else's well being. 

 

After the hate crime that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I couldn't stop thinking about how something like this could still happen in 2018. We live in a toxic, hate-filled country with an administration that continuously backs white supremacy and their extreme tactics. In the act of anti-semitism, Robert Gregory Bowers took the lives of 11, injuring 6 who were in services for the Jewish Sabbath (a day of rest to celebrate the creation of life). This horrific terrorist attack changed the lives of people within the Jewish community around the world and especially those personally affected first-hand.  This country is being exposed to the true colors it is... time and time again, defending actions that are life altering to minorities in our country as well as overseas. 

 

With midterm elections upon us, take into account the events that have occurred here as well as overseas because of the people in power. How have things turned dramatically for the worst? How has this affected you, your neighbors, friends, family, etc? Become educated on the information that will be presented to you on the ballots and how this will change your future. Research in depth about the candidates running for Congress because these are the ones who put Trump's propositions into place. Who is going to fight for the well-being of the people of the United States because it is surely not coming from the White House? Fight for change and a better future filled with politicians willing to go to the end of the earth to do what is right for the people. Not voting should not be a thought because, in reality, not voting is the equivalent of agreeing with Trump's politics without actually stating it.

 

 

 

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