Being Jewish in the Bible Belt of America is not easy, to say the least. Unfortunately, antisemitism is not just present in the south- I am confronted with antisemitism all over the world. My religion has affected some of my friendships and relationships. All too often, I am afraid to speak my truth. I am afraid to tell someone about where my family has come from, and about what we believe in. Even at my considerably diverse school, I still feel like a fish out of water.
I was raised to treat everyone- no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, or religion- with kindness. Sometimes it is shocking that others do not do the same. From having “Jew girl” shouted at me in the hall at my old school, to being told that no guy would ever date me “because I’m Jewish.” To just recently, when rapper Kanye West posted on Twitter that he would go “DEF CON 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE.” I have faced many challenges rooted from my religion and my culture.
In addition, before I transferred to a private school last year, I went to a public school where several acts of antisemitism took place. I even experienced antisemitism directed at me by one of my closest friends. Because of this, I did my best to blend in, not to deny my Judaism, but to hide it somewhat to “get by”.
I did this until I became active in BBYO on the regional level, attending regional conventions, IC 2022, CLTC 3, and now this summer ILTC and either Kallah or a trip to Israel. I now, having made such strong bonds with Jewish teens around the world, wear my Judaism like a badge of honor. I consider my religion a strength- and I am thankful for all it has given me. Even though I still sometimes feel isolated at home, I have found my people in BBYO. I am honored to lead Delta Region and to recruit new members, like me, who feel out of place in their southern, predominantly Christian, home communities. BBYO has helped me find my Jewish identity and learn to love my religion- one of the things that makes me so different in not only my community, but in my country as well.
Marley Nadler is BBG from Magic City BBG in Delta Region and is obsessed with BBYO.
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.
When G-d chose to invest in the Jewish people, he expected us to hone in on our given talents to both live a fulfilling life and show our appreciation for these gifts.
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