Wearing My Identity Around My Neck

March 12, 2024
Chloe Beal

Rye Brook, New York, United States

Class of 2025

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     Hanukkah felt different this year. Instead of compiling a list of everything I ever wanted, I went on about my life as if Hanukkah didn’t exist. It was a weird feeling not being immensely excited about my favorite holiday. But I wondered how I could possibly celebrate such an important Jewish holiday when teenage girls just like me couldn’t celebrate with their families. These girls would receive no gifts, light no candles, and instead spend the 8 days and nights of Hanukkah in a dark tunnel with constant fear.

     This year, I didn’t want expensive clothes. I didn’t ask for a single pair of shoes or a lavish hair tool. Instead, I had just two gifts on my wishlist. First was Izzy Ezagui’s novel, Disarmed. After hearing Ezagui speak at Hudson Valley Region’s Winter Convention, I knew immediately that I needed to know more about the humble IDF soldier. His story is truly inspiring, and one that has helped me through these difficult times. 

     The second gift was a Hamsa necklace. For years, I had treasured my grandmother’s stunning Star of David that she wore every day. I had my own little necklace that she had given me before, but I felt that it was time for something bigger and more meaningful that I would wear forever. After I asked my mother for this gift, she questioned me about what type I wanted. “We can get your Hebrew name engraved, a Star of David, or a Hamsa,” she told me, reciting what our local jeweler sold. Without even taking a second to think, I knew I wanted a Hamsa. Symbolizing peace and prosperity, it would remind me every day to remember those who had not seen the sunlight in months. My brothers and sisters who were trapped in dark tunnels, terrified and begging terrorists for mercy as they withheld food and water. When I see this necklace in the mirror each morning, I am reminded that if I want peace in this world, I must fight for it. 

The other day, I walked in New York City by myself for the first time. I felt terrified, and as a young woman, I was extremely vigilant of my surroundings. Not one thing around me went unnoticed. As I braved the city, I held on to God’s Hand on my necklace, knowing that I now held the power of every Jew who stood up for what they believed in. My necklace reminds me that I have the ability to speak out about the terrors of Hamas, and that I can be the voice for those who cannot speak. 

בואו נזכור מי התחיל את המלחמה הזו

שלא נשכח לעולם את אלה שסבלו בגלל זה.

Let us remember who started this war

May we never forget those who suffered because of it. 

Chloe Beal is a BBG living in Rye Brook, New York. In her free time, she enjoys doing Model UN with her school.

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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