Looking at the recent events that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue located in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, I am filled with absolute disgust and frustration. The fact that in 2018, after all, we have overcome as a society, there are still people out there who believe they are better than a select group of people due to their religion, gender, or the color of their skin. The fact that just recently a group of 29 innocent practicing Jewish people were maliciously shot due to outrageous hate in one man's cold heart.
This is precisely why I am writing this article. As someone who grew up practicing Judaism it scares me that just a few hours from where I used to attend synagogue every Friday and Saturday, this shooting occurred.
While growing up in Pennsylvania, it is not uncommon to know multiple Jewish people. In fact, there are more Jewish people in the Northeast than many other areas of the United States. From birth to the age of thirteen, I felt completely safe within my community, regardless of my religion. I felt that I could express my faith as every other person can.
I would often time spend most of the weekend during my childhood with my grandparents on my dad's side. They would take me to synagogue and celebrate Shabbat every week. They taught me to love who I am and appreciate my own Jewish values.
Whenever Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, came around most of my family was together celebrating. I was taught all the prayers, learned to cook every Jewish dish, and despite being the oldest grandchild at the table, I read the famous four questions every year. Altogether, we remembered why we were celebrating each and every holiday. Altogether, we sang the songs and chanted every prayer.
The day of my Bat Mitzvah was my thirteenth birthday. The day I waited for my whole life was finally here. I practiced and studied relentlessly, as every Jewish child ready to be an adult in the community does. This day came and went, and soon enough my family was packed up two days later and moved all the way down to Georgia.
This is where my story changes. Where we moved there was no synagogue in an hour radius of my family's new house, but also rarely did I ever see another Jewish person. I went through an enormous culture shock, regarding how unopen to coexist with anyone who was different from them.
I began to feel like I could not express my religious roots. I felt as though I was an outsider, and only recently have I been able to open up about my religious beliefs. This is after six years of being scared to talk about what I believe in.
As someone who practices Judaism, I am in complete shock and disbelief that there are still hate crimes occurring in America. As a nation, we should be advanced enough to not hate someone because of something they cannot control or something they believe in.