The Impact of Ignorance

October 12, 2023
Ava Taylor

San Diego, California, United States

Class of 2025

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“Sick to my stomach.” 

“Utterly Terrified.” 

“Mass Genocide.” 

“Don’t Look at Social Media.”

“Vigil on *Insert Date Here*.” 

Jewish teens like myself have been overwhelmed with negative information and bad news in the days following the attacks on Israel. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us. For the first time since joining BBYO 3 years ago, my region has 24-hour security at our upcoming convention. For the first time since joining BBYO, our movement has been threatened. But since joining BBYO 3 years ago, this is the most connected to my international siblings that I’ve ever felt.

We’ve all been affected differently by this conflict. A friend of mine remarked to me that she hadn’t left her room since the start of the conflict, as so many close to her had been affected. Another told me that she was shocked that people had the capacity to inflict such horrible things on others. Many more, including myself, are grappling with the new reality of being a targeted minority, but as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, a second Jewish massacre hits especially close to home.

I’ve grown up hearing stories of my grandparent’s persecution and that I was privileged to be able to practice my religion freely. I never, not in a million years, would’ve thought that I wouldn’t be afforded those freedoms. The phrase “never again,” in regards to the Holocaust, is called into question as the events of the present mimic those of the past. My grandparents were just toddlers, yet they never forgot the trauma they’d endured. I can’t help but think about them through these trying times when I hear stories of the tortures in Israel, my heart hurting for the children that have already been lost and those whose trauma will mimic my grandparents’. It’s insane that when I’m in my 80s, a new wave of people will be sharing their stories and praying that “never again” rings true this time around. The mind-boggling notion that people’s lives are being destroyed as I write this makes my heart heavy, and my heart goes out to those who are feeling the same way my ancestors did.

I was sitting in my bed on Wednesday night, writing this article, when my mom walked into my room and told me that my school found spray-painted swastikas in the bathroom. I was in shock. I guess I’ve been so stuck in the bubble of my healthy, thriving Jewish community at school that I didn’t think that people I knew could become involved with antisemitism. I am terrified knowing that someone I pass in the halls every day, someone so young and vulnerable, can have such an intense hatred for me and my people. It makes me wonder whether they truly understand the conflict or if a lack of education and a need to belong to their community has led them astray. 

To try to understand why such hatred can occur on both a local and global scale, I tried to find common threads between the other mass genocides in our history. In order to solve conflict, we need to be conscious of differing perspectives and be willing to hear them out. Education is the ultimate cure to ignorance, and ignoring its importance makes us victims, too. 

A friend of mine remarked to me that my school’s Associated Student Body shouldn’t have asked us to wear blue and white in support of Israel, as it ostracized other minority groups. She didn’t have bad intentions with her comment, as she was empathizing with my school’s Islamic community, but was instead just uneducated on the issue she was remarking about. Martin Luther King once said, "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” The importance of speaking out and taking a stance on relevant issues has never been more prominent, and ensuring that our words are well thought out before we speak is of the utmost importance.

As I close out my first Shofar article, I leave you with this. Be open-minded. Be assertive. Speak up for what is right, but also understand what is wrong. Watch out for ignorance and be willing to listen to all sides of a story. Let’s be the generation of the educated so that maybe our misunderstandings of the future can be prevented. Let’s do right by the people of Israel so we give my grandparents and all of our persevering ancestors a world to be proud of. 

Zichrona Livricha

May their memories be a blessing.

Ava Taylor is a BBG from San Diego, CA. She is currently serving as chapter Morah and was a founding board member of her chapter 2 years ago.

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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