Why I’m Proud to be a Jewish Girl

October 24, 2023
Quinn Willett

Milford, Connecticut, United States

Class of 2025

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We've all read articles, watched videos, and the news about what's happening in Israel right now. We have been reposting things, spreading awareness, and posting things ourselves to advocate for being Jewish at this time. You may feel strong posting something, proud to be Jewish, happy you can get those words out to stick up for your people until you can't. Until someone slides up or responds to your post calling you "stupid," "uneducated," or saying, "This is wrong." You suddenly feel confused because you know what you believe in, and you know what you're doing is the right thing.

How could just a few words affect someone so much? How could it bring someone down instantly? I've never felt more scared to post something because someone might not agree with me and try to hurt me or do something. I've never felt so scared to go to school knowing everyone knows I'm Jewish and they might try to do something to me. I'm a 16-year-old girl. I should not be afraid to go to school. I've never been so scared and anxious about wearing my Star of David because someone will see and call me a slur or try to hurt me. Still dealing with all of this hate, I stay true to my identity. I keep my Star on because I'm proud to wear it. I post what I know is right, and that is supporting my people. Some people may say we are overreacting for being scared. They may say we are overreacting for caring so strongly, but how am I overreacting when my people are being killed? I Today, I posted a story telling people to join the Jewish Student Union at my school. After posting it, I was scared. I was scared someone might hate crime me for posting that, say something mean, or try to hurt me; I've never felt that way before. Someone responded, "YOU'RE JEWISH?" I did not know at that moment if I should say yes or no. I proudly said yes, and he replied with, "Me too, that's amazing." I felt relieved that he did not say anything mean like other people have.

A girl at my sister's college was in an Uber, and the driver asked her if she was Jewish. She said no, and he responded with, "Good because if you were, I would've killed you." She is Jewish. She shouldn't have to say no or be ashamed for being Jewish. She should be proud. I've never felt scared of being Jewish until now. I was, in fact, right. After posting that, I got hate. Someone slid up saying, "Join the SWP (Stand With Palestine club." The boys said that they didn't care about Palestine; they just cared about making fun of Jewish people. Why were they mocking me? I thought to myself. Then I remembered it was because I'm Jewish.

I was scared to go to school this morning because someone might try and do something to me just because I'm Jewish. Why should I get treated differently because of my religion? Why should I be scared? I reached out to the Dean of Students about the antisemitism at school and asked him to do something about it. I simply asked him to make an announcement telling everyone to treat everyone equally. I was shut down by that idea and told I could handle it myself. I then went to my principal, asking for an announcement to be made. A day later, he goes on the intercom for the whole school to hear, and all there are are giggles and laughter. No respect. I hear people laugh. I see people smirk. It upsets me and makes me feel hurt. I see people making fun of a serious situation. Instead of going off on someone, I keep my head up high and continue to be proud to be a Jewish girl.

It brings me back to second grade when I wasn't allowed to participate in the Easter Egg hunt or Christmas activities, so I'd have to sit on the swings by myself while everyone else looked for eggs around the playground. This made me feel like I didn't belong just because I was Jewish. I was the only girl in my class sitting by myself just because I didn't celebrate a holiday. I'd have to color in the back of the class by myself in December while everyone else got to write letters to Santa. It was not fair then, and it's not fair now.

After dealing with all of this, I will forever continue to be proud to be a Jewish girl. Second grade me and now junior year me I have heard and had to deal with lots of hate and antisemitism, but instead of responding with hate back, I grew stronger as a person.

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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