I shouldn’t be afraid to be a Jew but I am.

I’m 17 years old and I just spent 3 months in Israel and a week in Poland with my class. In both places we were able to celebrate our Jewish heritage and history; the places we came from and the places we went.

I shouldn’t be afraid to be a Jew but I am.

I prayed for the safe return of Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal. I mourned their deaths and cried with my community. I wore a yellow ribbon in their memory.

I shouldn’t be afraid to be a Jew but I am.

I attended a pro-Israel rally and waved my Israeli flag and cheered on each speaker even though the counter protesters on the same side of the street were just as loud as we were.

I shouldn’t be afraid to be a Jew but I am.

I shouldn’t be having recurring nightmares about terrorists in my hometown, my synagogue.

I shouldn’t be passing rallies for National Swastika Rehabilitation.

I shouldn’t be seeing articles titled “Rabbi murdered in Miami on way to synagogue”.  

I shouldn’t be afraid to wear my Jewish star necklace, my High School in Israel t-shirt.

I shouldn’t be afraid to wear my “Anyone-who-doesn’t-believe-in-miracles-isn’t-a-realist” Ben Gurion t-shirt.

I shouldn’t have been scared for my friend who bravely stood up for what he believed in as a counter protester at a pro-Hamas rally.

His Israeli flag shouldn’t have been ripped off his body and burned.

I shouldn’t be afraid to engage someone who disagrees with me in a [hopefully] peaceful dialogue.

I’m 17 years old and I just spent 3 months in Israel and a week in Poland with my class. I have always worn my Judaism on my sleeve, both literally and figuratively.

I shouldn’t be afraid to be a Jew… but I am.