Tell us in a few words about yourself.
I am 28 years old and originally from Brooklyn, New York. I emigrated to Israel in the Summer of 2016 and currently live in Jerusalem with my husband David, a native of Cleveland, Ohio. I am the Director of Resource Development for a non-profit called New Spirit, which works to keep young people in Jerusalem and to ensure that Jerusalem remains a vibrant, open-minded and pluralistic place. I first visited Israel on Taglit Birthright in 2009 and after becoming religious at Binghamton University, I decided to make Aliyah (immigrate) to Israel a few years after graduation.
If you have experienced antisemitism in your country, how was it expressed?
Luckily, I never experienced antisemitism firsthand in Israel. But, I did experience it many years ago, in my first week of Junior High School, when I still lived in New York. A boy in my homeroom class blew chalk dust in my face, knowing that I was allergic, and chanted at me down the hallway leaving the school, “Look at you in that denim skirt. You’re such a dirty Jew b***h.” It was so upsetting at the time and I went home crying to my Mom. I knew at the young age of 11 that it was blatant antisemitism that I was experiencing. Luckily, the boy was reprimanded by school authorities and the incident was put on his permanent record.
What do you feel is the most productive way to fight hate?
Education. Hate of any kind should be combated through education and teaching children while they are still young the crucial skills of empathy and kindness. The idea of trying to learn from those different than you and respecting them along the way. Regarding antisemitism, too many kids growing up in the 2000s aren’t receiving the same level of Holocaust history and education that I did as a child or in my parent’s generation. As we move further away in time from the Holocaust, the number of Holocaust deniers increases and young people aren’t getting all the facts. In turn, that misinformation breads intolerance and ignorance.
What message would you like to relay to young Jews throughout the world who are worried about antisemitism? What message do you have for those marching in the “March of the living”?
Firstly, don’t be afraid to stand up against what you know is wrong. Secondly, while I hope it doesn’t ever get to this point, know that you will always have a home in Israel, if you feel that, as a Jew, you have nowhere else to go. That’s what Israel is here for – for the Jews to have a homeland where they are not persecuted.