Being A Jewish Girl in a Catholic School

I walked into my high school on my first day of freshman year not really sure of what I had gotten myself into. I was scared that I looked different, that I wouldn’t make friends, that I would be judged. I knew that all of the other students in my class felt this way too, but I was the only one that was hiding something. I was the only Jewish girl in a Catholic school. 

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My classmates began to realize that I was different when I wasn’t participating in morning prayers and when I would stay in my seat during mass as everyone else went to receive communion. I tried not to make eye contact at these times because I thought it would make me invisible. I began to make friends in spite of my fears. I found that a lot of people were very accepting, but I still held onto the insecurity. I was proud of my religion and the person it made me, but I hated feeling different. 

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On a day-to-day basis throughout my four years of high school, a comment was made about my religion. Most of the time, it was a harmless “Happy Hanukkah” or “Shalom” in the halls. I was able to brush it off, but other times it was more hurtful. People made vulgar comments about the Holocaust and used unfair stereotypes about the Jewish community at my expense. As an underclassman, I never spoke up for myself. I began to feel fed up with the way I was being treated and needed to make a change. On my 16th birthday, I made a vow to stand up for myself.

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With my vow, I had the confidence to tell the people at school how it felt to be singled out. I made sure to never be rude, but to make people understand how I felt. As this became routine for me, my life began to change. I felt stronger than ever before. I loved this new version of myself, who no longer tried not to make eye contact and was happy to stand out. I even started to wear a necklace to school that said “Stronger Than Hate” in Hebrew and talked about my experiences in BBYO, a Jewish youth group. 

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I know that the self-esteem I found in high school will help me achieve my goals. Now more than ever, young women are finding their voices and using them to create change in the world. All it takes is making a vow to yourself to tap into that voice that you are keeping down. If a terrified Jewish girl in a Catholic school can do it, any girl can.