Whether I am lighting the Shabbat candles, eating chicken soup with matzah balls, participating in a global Jewish youth group like BBYO, or attending a Strong Jewish Women’s Fellowship meeting, there is no doubt that I am connected to my Judaism . Being Jewish is a huge part of my identity and it plays a major role in my daily life. When I wake up in the morning, it’s not like the first thing I think of is being Jewish. But when I come downstairs and see a plate of hamentashens from my neighbor on the counter, I don’t question it. When I get a bowl for my cereal before I go to school, I make sure to get a dairy one and not a meat one. Leaving my house for school, I pass the mezuzah on the door and walk to my car. I don’t even notice the sticker on my windshield for the Jewish Community Center anymore; it is the same one that practically every other Jew in Atlanta also has.
I used to go to a Jewish day school where all my friends and most of my teachers were Jewish. Now, I attend public school. My closest friends are still Jewish but I am no longer in a bubble where Judaism defines my every day. Everyone at school knows I am Jewish, but it doesn’t seem to phase anyone like I expected it to. I’m not even sure how I expected people to act, but for some reason I believed that my Judaism would really matter to others. I remember one day, my first year of high school, I brought matzah ball soup to school for lunch. I spent the entire lunch period trying to explain to my non-Jewish friends what a matzah ball even is. Wet bread? Mushy dumpling? I didn’t know how to explain it but my non-Jewish friends were interested and it made me laugh trying to explain a traditional food to someone who had never tried it. It was funny and I enjoyed telling my friends about Jewish traditions.
After school, I usually go home and I either have tutoring, a ceramics class or a BBYO call. On Fridays, I have Shabbat dinner with my family and sometimes we light the candles on FaceTime with my aunt and Bubbie who are all the way in Canada. Judaism plays out in my everyday life, but it is all I have ever known. And until I wrote this article, I didn’t even realize how much of a role being Jewish really has in my daily life, but I like having something that connects me to others who also share my religion and I also appreciate feeling unique when I am around others who aren’t Jewish. My great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors and, after everything she went through, my great-grandmother’s Jewish pride had a big impact on me. I honestly wouldn’t trade being Jewish for anything.