I am an orthodox Jewish woman and it’s something I’m proud of. I love my religion with all its goodness and flaws. There were many times during my challenges that my faith was the only thing that kept me from falling apart.
I want to talk about something more uncomfortable though. I want to tell you how it feels to be a religious Jew in a world where antisemitism is rampant, shown openly or otherwise. I also want to ask some difficult questions.
I know I may seem different to you, strange even. We look different, we keep mostly to ourselves and basically live in our own little bubble. I understand you don’t “get” us.
But I don’t understand why we deserve the hatred directed at us.
Now, before you start to object and say that no one hates us, I will explain to you how I feel in the country I live in. I don’t always feel safe. I always feel the need to go with another person when I venture in unfamiliar places. And while some of it *may* be in my head, I cannot count how many times I had dirty stares directed at me. Or how many times “dirty Jew” was muttered under someone’s breath when I passed by.
I’m trying to understand why I am “dirty”. I do shower every day so it cannot be that.
I am a person just like you. A person with feelings, thoughts, desires, and fears like any other human being. I am a good mother to my children. I try to be a good person but I have my flaws just like everyone else.
Why is my religion held against me? Why is every story happening in my ultra-religious circles being spread out for all to see to criticize and to mock? Such stories happen everywhere.
Even if you don’t understand all of our rituals or they don’t make sense to you is no reason to make us feel less than.
I know there are a lot of decent people out there that respect everyone regardless of religion, color or race. But that still doesn’t take away the fact that we are feeling the hate left and right.
It’s not that hard to smile at every person you see, even if they are different. I don’t ask for much. I just want to be able to feel as safe as any other person out there.
Not to feel scared that I, as a visibly orthodox Jewish woman, will be attacked verbally or looked at with disdain. I don’t deserve that. We all don’t deserve that.
These are some hard questions which will probably be tough to hear. But the biggest question of all is: why is everyone afraid of “different”? We are, after all, very much the same.