A Jewish Girl's Perspective on Anti-Semitism

On Saturday, October 27th, a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 innocent Jews and injuring 6 others. The attack occurred at Tree of Life Congregation in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. When I heard this news, my head begun spinning, my heart started racing and my palms started sweating. How could a man do this on Shabbat, the day of rest, a time where people are able to spend time with family and reflect.

It is hard to feel safe anymore; violence and antisemitism are present all over the world. With recent shootings at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida, a Las Vegas music festival and an Ariana Grande concert, places where myself and people like me frequent, the world has become a scary place. My mom has warned me to only go to concerts I am really passionate about because it is a risk. I am told not to wear my IDF or birthright shirts on campus because it is a cause for trouble. Places where I used to feel safe are now limiting me, making me want to hide in fear.

Being born in South Florida and living there till I turned 18, I had not experienced any type of antisemitism before. My high school and community were full of people just like me, Jewish people. It was seen as cool to talk about the Jewish holidays, wear clothes from Israel, talk about going on March of the Living and play the game of Jewish geography. I always explicitly talked about my religion because it was a way to make connections.

Now, after moving out to Los Angeles to go to school at UCLA, I do not feel the way I felt at home. I walk around a campus where people are explicitly protesting Israel, where people are promoting antisemitism on social media. I am living in a place where I feel as though I can’t express myself. I attend Shabbat and belong to Jewish clubs, but I do not explicitly publicize it. I do not happily and eagerly share that I am Jewish because I feel as though it is a risk, not a way to make a connection.

With the Pittsburgh shooting that occurred this past weekend, my mentality immediately changed. As I saw almost every single person on my Facebook timeline adding a filter to their profile picture stating “#Together Against Antisemitism,” I began to feel as though I was at home again. I immediately changed my profile picture to reflect the same. I need to be proud of my religion and heritage and openly share that with others. By doing little acts, such as attending fundraisers and vigils, wearing a Jewish star necklace and lighting the candles on Shabbat, I am making a change. I am standing in solidarity with the people of Pittsburgh and the Jewish community. By expressing myself, and by others doing the same, we can help stop antisemitism as a community.