Oakland, CA — When I was in middle school, I had a few classmates who made jokes about the Holocaust and Jewish stereotypes, I felt small. I didn’t want to be Jewish anymore.
For years I grappled with my identity. If someone asked me, “Aren’t you Jewish?” I would say, “Yeah, but I’m not really Jewish.”
A couple years ago, I asked a rabbi if it was okay I didn’t believe in God. “Of course it’s okay, it’s not about that,” he said.
My rabbi was understanding of my skepticism. I felt accepted. I started paying more attention during services and stopped hiding my Jewishness from my peers.
I learned that Judaism is about working towards accepting others and giving back. I’m proud of my community.
When 11 people were killed in the Tree of Life synagogue in October, I broke down crying. I couldn’t understand why people carry so much hatred. My temple has since hired extra security.
Looking back, I feel ashamed of the moments when I turned my back on my faith. Now, I am proud of the way we continue to preach compassion, even among threats and hate crimes.