It ends today.

May 28, 2024
Quinn Willett

Milford, Connecticut, United States

Class of 2025

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     When will anti-Semitism stop? I think to myself. Imagine your 8-year-old child thinking that. It didn’t stop in second grade when my teachers wouldn’t let me participate in the Easter or Christmas activities, and it still hasn’t stopped now. 9 years later, and I’m dealing with it more than ever. 

     First, it was just a comment here and there. Getting called nicknames or someone making a “Jew joke.” A teacher specifically singled me out in history class when we learned about the Holocaust. Asking only me questions about it because the Jewish girl should know most about the Holocaust. Is that what the teachers really think? I always wondered but was too scared to speak up and ask. 

     Last semester, I decided to start a new club at school, the Jewish Student Union. I had been trying to start this club since I was a freshman, and now that I’m a junior, I really wanted to get it going. It had been in the works for two years, but I finally found an advisor. I got in touch with a supervisor for all the Jewish Student Unions in Connecticut and found an advisor. It is October 13th, 2024, and I finally posted about my club. “Join the JSU first meeting next Friday!” I posted it on my Snapchat story. So proud and excited. I expected some people to hate it due to the timing. In response, someone at school sent a Snapchat to my friend and me. We are two of the very few Jewish people at school. “Join the SWP (stand with Palestine) club,” he says. What is the need for this? I ask myself. He doesn’t care about politics or what’s happening in the world. Three sport varsity athlete, junior captain, honor roll student this kid is. As I tell the school how I’m getting discriminated against, they don’t do anything. So, I leave it be.

    I wrote about that over 6 months ago, when it first happened. I didn’t think I’d have to write another article about how I feel to be heard. Writing about it is the only way I can express how I feel. I shouldn’t have to feel this way, and I don’t want to. “Hitler paved the way for you; you should thank him,” someone once said. I don’t react, but I try to rise above. “Today is your day; it’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day.” “Jews shouldn’t be allowed to be presidents.” “Hitler shouldn’t have died.” “Quinn, what would you bring to the Holocaust? You’ll probably have the most accurate answer.” All things said to me. Having a group chat be called “Quinn’s a k-slur” and it being the full slur.  And what did I do? Absolutely nothing. I’m tired of being scared to speak up and scared to make a change. Enough is enough. I’m tired of being unable to say how I feel because it might be controversial or upsetting someone. I get told not to “not make a big deal out of things” or “saying something might just make it worse.” 

      As I’m sitting in lunch today, my friend brings up how, in a student council speech, a student said, “From the River to the Sea.” On April 16th, The United States Congress passed a bill that the slogan is hate speech. They voted on April 16th, and it passed with 377-44 votes. So now hate speech is allowed in my school? If it were hate speech towards any other religion or any race, the school would shut it down immediately. So why not for Jewish people? As one of the very few Jewish students in my school, this does feel derogatory and offensive. I brought it up to a teacher, asking if they heard, and the response I got was, “That doesn’t sound like something they’d say.” I am done with doing nothing and letting everything slide. As a Jewish minority not only in my school but in my town, when will we be heard? When bringing it up to an administrator, they said, “It’s not a big deal.” I want to use my voice and use my strength to stand up for the people who are too scared to or the people that this is happening to. 

       The second graders who aren’t being told they aren’t to do the Easter egg hunt at school, so they have to play on the playground alone; the kids who are told they can’t write a letter to Santa, so they have to color alone by themselves, the kids in middle and high schools having swastikas written on the bathroom walls at their schools and every kid dealing with anti semitism in their schools. This ends today. I have a voice, and I am going to use it. I am not going to stop wearing my Star of David; I am going to continue having Jewish Student Union meetings and BBYO meetings, and I am going to continue using my voice to stand up for what I believe in. 

      Elementary school me would be so proud to know that I have created the first Jewish Student Union in my town, that I am on the regional board for a Jewish youth group, and that I am writing and putting an end to all the hate.

      To anyone reading this dealing with anti-Semitism, use your voice and the support you have to put a stop to it. Even if it’s hard and going out of your comfort zone to make a change, you can do it. 

Quinn is an BBG from SDA in Connecticut Valley Region who loves Taylor Swift

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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