Why don’t I feel safe as a Hasidic woman?

Why don’t I feel safe as a Hasidic woman?

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.

51 thoughts on “Why don’t I feel safe as a Hasidic woman?”

  • It utterly baffles me that people can still have their prejudices here in nearly 2015. Global acceptance of many things such as religious and sexual orientation is the highest it’s probably ever been and yet there are those who still live in the past.
    I have experienced my own unjustified prejudice’s which I think I’ll write about tomorrow so for now I’ll withhold that part.

  • Ignorance breeds hatred and misunderstanding. I’m sorry this is something you have to endure daily but blogs like this help break down the stereotypes and I applaud you. Well written piece.

  • I do not understand why there is so much discrimination and hatred in the world. I wish you could feel safe. ????????????????

  • Every since Hanukkah, people have been focusing on the fact that I’m Jewish. I never hid it before; earlier in the year, I made references to being in temple and my son attending Hebrew school. But now it seems to have really stuck in people’s minds.
    I understand that it’s a race, rather than a religion, which is why people identify others as being “Jewish,” just like they would say, “Italian” or “Irish.” But why are people even pointing this out about me? It’s “a” thing about me, not “the” thing. I wish they would post things on my Facebook timeline about me being a writer, or how much I love my kid.
    There’s something about having my Judaism pointed out to me repeatedly that makes me uncomfortable. Is this about me, I wonder, or about them?
    Perhaps I should write about it. Thank you for helping me articulate something that’s been nagging at me. This was a beautiful, thought provoking blog post.

    • Wow, thanks so much for your comment. I have never hidden it either and I must say that personally, I have not had any problems on social media. Maybe because they got to know me first, without knowing I was orthodox Jewish? I do wonder indeed why it makes you uncomfortable. I’ll be looking forward to your post 🙂

  • I think it’s so true that the media, even Jewish media outlets, overly focuses on problems in the Orthodox community and even seems gleeful to report them, making the issues seem far worse than in any other community by virtue of the spotlight it gets.

  • I do believe the Jewish people have been the most hated people throughout all of history, and this continues until this day. I hear the comments and the jokes and sometimes outright hatred (even in America, a place I never thought I’d hear it). I’m not Jewish, by the way. I believe it is because many, whether realizing it or not, hate God. There’s something inside of them that opposes the One True God. How can you explain tolerance for Buddha, Allah, the many Hindu gods? But not tolerance for the One who actually created us. Just my opinion, but I believe the Jewish people represent and remind the world of God. They don’t like you, because they don’t like Him first. There are of course exceptions to this, but I do believe this to be the biggest reason for such an illogical hatred of God’s people.

  • Antisemitism makes me sick. As a Christian, I believe Jews are God’s chosen people. I also think that Jewish culture and history are both interesting. I don’t understand anti-semites. I do admit that when I worked in New York briefly I was a little put off when ultra Orthodox Jewish men wouldn’t shake hands with me or make eye contact with me. I know Jews don’t like to be treated like they are dirty (who would?) but I don’t like to be treated like I’m dirty either. At the same time, they are entitled to their culture and the modesty they espouse could benefit Christians if they would practice it. I like the modesty of orthodox Jews. I have actually considered wearing a Muslim style burqa even though I’m Christian (http://stayathomewifeandwriter.blogspot.com/2014/12/burqas.html).
    Ultimately I think Jewish people get picked on because they so strongly maintain their unique culture. We have a world that hates “otherness.” We live in a world of groupthink where we expect our neighbors to think and act as we do or we feel criticized by them. It’s not right, but it’s been that way a long time. I’m sorry you do not feel safe walking around. I’m also glad to have found your blog. It’s nice to read an Orthodox Jewish blog, as it is a window into your life and culture.

    • Thanks so much for reading! I feel sad that us not shaking hands with the opposite gender makes you feel dirty as that is not at all our intention. I might write about that topic in the future 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings.
    It saddens me that you have to face such judgement from others. No one should have to face prejudice/judgement/discrimination, regardless of their beliefs, religion, country of origin, gender, etc. We are all human beings. We should be understanding, kind and loving towards one another. That is the only way the world will become a better place.

  • You’re right. You don’t deserve that kind if treatment. No one does. Consider that when you hear someone make these kinds of comments that it is more about themselves and their own fears and really has nothing at all to do with you. After all, that is where a lack of respect comes from. It comes from fear and ignorance. Hold your head high and know that your power and your light in your own faith blinded them for one brief moment and they had no idea what to make of it.

  • Im sorry you experience such discrimination- I wish we could all embrace difference but I’m afraid many adults are too entrenched in their beliefs. My hope is to teach the young people that we are more alike than we are different.

  • I’m sorry you are experiencing such hatred. It makes me sad to think that people judge others by their differences. My hope is we can teach the young people that we are more alike than we are different.

  • Love the post! It still amazes me that we, the human race, are so afraid of “different”. It all stems from fear. Education is the answer and writing about it is a key element of educating those that are afraid of others not like them!! xoxoxo Keep sharing.

  • I believe you but am also surprised that this still exists in our world today. While I also sometimes feel unsafe and like I need to make sure I’m not alone in new places, I don’t have people muttering religious slurs in my direction (to my knowledge). I agree (and have been posting on my blog about this a few times in the last couple of weeks) that we all need to appreciate each other for our differences and celebrate them together. Your “Jewish-ness” takes nothing away from my “Christian-ness” and vice versa. Instead, why can’t we (the world) embrace the “otherness” of one another? Thanks for posting.

  • I’m so sorry that you have to deal with such ignorant people 🙁 I don’t understand where the hatred and rudeness comes from. I hope that by sharing your story, you can help enlighten some of those people!

  • Society is cruel. I hate that people judge people on petty things. We all have the same color blood ruining through our veins regardless of our skin color, religion, etc…So, no one is better than anyone else.

  • I really don’t get how people in this century can even think to hate someone for these petty reasons. Yes, you’re different. So what? We’re all the same, we’re all people and we all have feelings. Why can’t we all just get along?

  • I’m sorry you are on the receiving end of this type of bigotry, and I have seen this in action while working in an agency that services a large hasidic/ orthodox community in my county. I have found that if we give one another a chance, we like each other a lot. I wish everyone would embrace friendships with those that are “different” because on the inside we are very much alike. I’m glad I found your blog – your writing is honest and open and it’s people like you who will break down barriers like these. Keep up the good work!

  • I’m sorry you have experienced such ill feelings towards you and others of your faith. Christians all over the world are experiencing such calamity as well. It’s so sad. While I may believe that my own faith is the true faith, I do not feel that anyone of any other faith should be treated poorly because of their faith. And we should ALL be allowed to express our faith openly. It’s so sad that so many of us feel we need to hide our faith in certain places or are even forced to do so against our wills.

  • I celebrate our differences – they’re what makes us human. I hope we’re working towards a more tolerant society – starting by examining our own preconceptions and attitudes. By raising the subject, which is not as easy as it perhaps seems, and getting people to engage with you, you’re taking an important step.

  • I really don’t get it save for the fact that humanity is just a born bully. It cannot exist without subjugating others and hating. End of. The muslims are the new jews today but that hasn’t stopped anti-semitism rising today also.
    Clearly if we all had one religion and one race humans would look for eye colour as an excuse to hate certain sections. It is inbred.
    I am following you but do come and visit on a regular if you can / wish to. It is the only way these days I can keep up with certain people and I’m interested in your story and possibilities.

  • There is so much hatred in this world nowadays and if it helps you – try to not take it too personally. Speaking for myself I have experienced so many situations where someone calls a Muslim child a terrorist, a Catholic old lady a non-believer, a Chinese a “dog-eating-guy” and so on. Sometimes it really feels as if this world is up to destroying all of the tradition and belief we still share, the media is changing reality and seperating us into groups and clusters, people are blindly following and spreading the hate. Be who you are, and whoever you are be a kind one. If we would all try to be nicer to each other this world would be so much better!

  • I am sorry to see this happen you. Its horrible to read and said to see five years later anti-semitism has spiked more. Am sure its still frightening to be a visible Jewish person now when so many threaten your community.

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