my first experience with anti-Semitism

last year, i had an experience i’ve never had before.  i was 36 years old, Jewish, and living in Los Angeles, or a suburb rather. and for the first time in my entire life, i felt like a minority.

for the first time in my 36 years, i felt like an outcast.

i felt ostracized and ignored.

i felt prejudice and anti-Semitism i’ve never experienced in my life. EVEN having been the first “jew” many of my college friends ever knew.

and as we approach the coming holiday season, the anxiety is welling up inside and i can feel the fear and hurt creeping back.

i don’t know how to fix this. it’s 2012, shouldn’t we be more evolved by now??

do i educate people?

do i stay offline?

do i distance myself from the internet where i spend the other 10 months of the year??

how, in 2012, do i as a reform Jewish woman, assimilate into American society and not feel like an outsider when ad after ad, tweet after tweet, sale after sale, post after post is all about Christmas and only Christmas.

i’m not begrudging ANYONE Christmas, i love celebrating the commercialized version as much as you do! the lights! the colors! the eggnog! the christmas morning cinnamon rolls & bacon. the happy faces on the children as they open their presents. ask natalie, i think it’s awesome!

but what about Hanukkah? i don’t see ads for that. i don’t think most people could even tell you what Hanukkah is about. yeah, it’s become commercialized like Christmas, like to try to “keep up”, and actually, i’m okay with that. it makes me feel a little less of an outcast during the month of December.

during my holidays last year i found my world a self-centered, alienating, horrible place to be. it made me dislike people who i normally love and feel blessed to know. which actually made me nauseous. it made me sick how far we haven’t come since the Holocaust in 1933, because if being Jewish is THAT surprising and crazy to people today, what progress have we made??

i don’t know how i’d want this solved. i think awareness is a start. i think sharing is a start.

the first candle of Hannukah is Saturday, December 8th this year, a little over 7-weeks away. i’m going to dedicate a post weekly to educating about Hannukkah. each week i’ll share something whether its educational, or a family tradition with you. maybe education is the key here.

what i challenge YOU to do, is spend the next 10 weeks until Christmas, teaching your children something about Christmas if that’s what you celebrate. whether it’s the meaning of Christmas. the significance of St Nick. the story of he night before christmas. or even, how about the story of what Christmas ACTUALLY is about.

i bet if you took 10 kids. all 10 years old. 5 Jewish and 5 Christian, the 5 Jewish ones would know EXACTLY what Hannukkah is about.and not presents. it may be commercialized now, but we make sure the story of Hannukah is never forgotten. we pass it on from generation to generation and not only from a religious standpoint.

what i found last year was an anti-Semitic, overly spoiled for no apparent reason, group of people celebrating a holiday that from what i understand is extremely religious, as if it was all about sales and the best toy they could find for their kid. or the most expensive electronic item for themself or their spouse. i think the lights are awesome. the presents are the best part!!! but there’s more to the holidays than OUR generation is teaching our children.

you see, my best friend through high school was greek orthodox. she celebrated Christmas and all other christian holidays. we taught each other. i never felt left out. in fact, i felt welcomed and included. her family always wanted to know about my faith and our traditions. i love answering those kinds of questions. how fun to educate someone on something they might be scared to ask elsewhere.

DON’T BE SCARED TO ASK!!!

I love explaining traditions or the story behind a Jewish holiday’s. and of course, how WOULD you know unless you ask??! (email me privately if you’re embarrassed!)

i look forward to this holiday season and hope and pray that i walk away feeling differently than i did last year. it’s a new start this year. i’m walking away from the hurt and anger i’ve carried with me the past few years and i’m ready to celebrate and enjoy and make up for the past 3 years.

i hope etsy has found a way to offer Hannukkah gifts, decorations and other regalia, just like they do for Christmas! i hope people on the internet can start to understand that Christmas isn’t all there is! and i hope you’ll accept my challenge and work on educating your children on their own religion beyond the tree, ornaments and twinkling lights.

~ traci xoxo

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