This I Believe

Allison - High Point, North Carolina
Entered on January 29, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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“Are you really Jewish?”

I glance up from my Driver’s Ed handbook and look the girl up and down. She’s leaning over the table at me, her eyes steadily roving back and forth, from my Jewish Star necklace to my eyes. I glance down the table and notice that everyone is sitting together, and is staring at me, waiting for my reply. I wonder for a moment if this had been planned, if the girl had carefully drawn her straw only to see she had the short one. She would then sigh, slide over bench to face me, and pose the question.

It’s not like this caught me by surprise. I had been waiting for this moment to happen for a week, since I started the class. Having already been picked out of the group because I was a homeschooler in the midst of high school friends, I knew it was only a matter of time before they noticed my necklace and other obvious Judaeakitch.

I’m not exactly what you would call quiet about my beliefs. I wear shirts that proclaim in bold letters “I LOVE ISRAEL, I WANT PEACE” and “Young Judaea Stands for Darfur”. I wear a Jewish star necklace, have earrings portraying other Jewish symbols, and I sing songs in Hebrew to myself when I get bored.

I look at the girl again, trying to gauge her response. She has shoulder length straight dark hair with sweeping bangs, a low-cut green striped tank top, has artificially tan skin, and is wearing tons of eyeliner. When people ask me these questions, I always try to figure out what their reaction will be. This helps in case they aren’t, well, the politest people in the world.

I get the worst online. People often write things like “Heil Hitler!”, “Dirty Christ Killer!”, and “Can I have some Jew gold?” The last one would have been funny if the people were joking, which I hope they were. Maybe it’s because they don’t see me in person, don’t see me as real, that they can make these remarks.

I don’t let these things bother me. I mean, I’m not made of steel and it does hurt my feelings, but I don’t dwell on it. I try to take these as examples of uneducated people speaking loud and idiotic opinions because they think it makes them sound intelligent.

Through all this, I don’t change my ideals. Them trying to crush my spirits and trying to make themselves feel better has the opposite reaction then the one they wanted. Instead of being sad, I hold my head up all higher. You see, I believe in being proud of your culture. I’m proud of being Jewish, proud of being different, of being me. That’s why when that girl looked at me, I smiled and said.

“Yes, I really am.”

She smiles back, stands up to rejoin her group and says