The Importance of my Identity

Tanya - Los Gatos, California
Entered on May 29, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I have had a Bat-Mitzvah ceremony and celebration. I comfortably wear necklaces with the Star-of-David attached to them. I can go to Synagogue safely and focus on my prayers. These things are a part of my Jewish identity. I am proud of being Jewish. I believe that every Jew should be proud of their identity too.

My parents grew up in Moscow, Russia where there was a great deal of anti-Semitism. My father especially, faced many obstacles growing up. In elementary school, my father and two other Jewish boys were waiting in the schoolyard early morning before class. One boy went up to my dad’s friend and said, “Hey you Jew, why are you standing here, you shouldn’t go to class.” My father was quiet, but his other friend said that they could stand here because Jews were not less equal than any other person. My father said that it was normal to hear these things, and to be treated in a poor manner. It didn’t even come across his mind that Jews were respected in other countries. My father and his friends still went to class, but my father remembered that the feeling he felt was very unpleasant.

Many years later my father got married to my mom. They wanted to escape the humiliation in Russia. They wanted a better future for their kids. They left everything behind and immigrated to the United States of America. It took them a couple of years to assimilate into the American society. They were glad that they took this risk because they are very happy in America.

Through listening to my father’s tale, I realize what an honor and how significant it really is to be Jewish. I realize that it hasn’t been easy for the Jews. They have faced oppression and persecution due to horrible events like the Holocaust. In spite of this fact, they still manage to survive through these hard times and that actually makes me proud of being Jewish.

Thanks to my parents, I don’t have to face the ugliness of anti-Semitism. I attend a Jewish Day School and I embrace the fact that I am Jewish. I am proud of being Jewish but, what does it mean to be proud of being Jewish?

Sometimes, being proud could be accepted as arrogance. I think that there is a fine line between the two. I believe that the main difference is that being proud of Judaism means that you are accepting it. I believe that I am accepting Judaism when I let God into my heart. I let God into my heart when I connect with him, whether through prayers or just in my everyday life.

I believe a Jewish person is proud of their religion when they feel a connection with God. I am proud of being Jewish because my people have come a long way. Here I am, living a comfortable life and attending a Jewish school. It is really interesting because my father and his Jewish friends were looked down upon when they went to their regular public school. I know that it is not possible for every Jew around the world. There are some countries where anti-Semitism still occurs.

So when I go to school tomorrow, I will learn Judaica on behalf of the people, who cannot. I will learn for the people who have not yet realized their Jewish identity. Later on in life, I will teach my children these teachings, and their children’s children, and so on. That way, their Judaism will never be forgotten and there will still be a Jewish population. Being Jewish is a part of my identity and I am proud of it. I believe that every Jew should be proud of their identity.