It's difficult to discuss being jewish without causing a riot. I'm proud of my culture and heritage, yet it seems that every time I display that pride, I am bullied by those who see me as "different"
This past December, WE held a candy-gram drive to raise money for the school. Basically, for $0.50 your child could send a candy cane with a note to/from to someone else. There were three days of the event so, like any other elementary school event, everything was botched and all the classes were split rather than delivered to all at once.
On that first day of the drive, Lily didn't receive any candy-grams. Although this bugged me, I knew there were still a few more days and that I had sent her some myself so hers were coming eventually. What bothered me most was that a little boy in her class told her that she didn't get any candy-grams because she's jewish.
Now, I know these kids. Not one of them has a mean bone in their body. I know this was said to her as an observation; nonchalantly. It was not a bullying statement. I;m lucky enough that I didn't have to explain the hate behind bullying us and instead went about educating her about why her friend might say that.
Ironically enough, Abbi faces non of this. Her high school is full of wonderful students, teachers and staff who simply don't care what her race is. And she's proud as hell to b part jew and part hispanic. She gets a huge kick out of telling people about how her jewish mom married a mexican. It used to get a rise out of people in her catholic junior high but at WHS, no one cares.
I don't believe for one second that anyone at WE cares either. In fact, Lily's first grade teacher brought her up to talk about Hanukkah and our traditions. She loves being jewish and, as far as I know, has never seen herself as different.
There are those who do say mean things, nasty things. People I thought I could trust and loved. People, I have realized were rather two-faced. It hurts to have my children being bullied behind their backs by their own families. It hurts to know that there is nothing I can do to stop it or prevent it from becoming worse as they grow up. I can handle what is said both to me or about me. But what I can't understand is why children are blamed because of their blood.
Being jewish to me is a beautiful thing. I feel privileged every day to carry the blood of Abraham and to be a descendant of king David. So how about a few things most people don't know?
1 | Jews are a peaceful folk.
Ok, yeah, we can bite when provoked but honestly, as a whole, we don't seek to destroy, we are not terrorists and we have never slaughtered gentiles for the fun of it.
2 | Jews don't actually have horns.
Trust me on this. I gave birth to four jewish babies. I would definitely know if they had horns. Although, I am a little sad about this fact. It would be more fun to show off my horns and shock people than just shaking my head at them.
3 | Jews do believe in Jesus.
Ok, this one is debatable because not all jews actually do believe in Jesus. But as a reform jew, I can say that, yes, I believe in Jesus. I believed he was born, he grew up, he walked and talked and helped others. Jesus was an awesome advocate for the poor and the unloved. But that's all he was. An amazing advocate. Not the son of g-d.
4 | Jews are not money grubbers
This one is my favorite. People think that jews are all about money and how to "steal" it from others. Bernie Madoff aside, once upon a time, jews were not allowed to have working jobs. No farming, no building, nothing requiring labor. Therefore they went into the only businesses they were allowed: banking and the arts. Although the rules have changed in today's society, the roles haven't. Thus the speculation that all jews want is your money.
I've instilled - or at least like to believe I have - in my children that being jewish isn't just about not believing in Jesus. Being jewish isn't about going to temple. Being jewish isn't about torahs and yarmulkes. Being jewish is about the mitzvahs. It's about celebrating life, building traditions and helping one another.
Being jewish is about love.
Have you ever had people bully you for your sex, race or religion? How do/did you handle that?
Meanwhile, I'll see you in the next post,