Being a better Jew

So, there I was in the middle of work looking at an Israeli news site online. A girl at work said to me, “What are you doing?”

I said, “Just reading about some news in Israel.”

She replied back with a smile “You mean you’re reading news in Palestine, not Israel.”

Now, this is not going to be a blog about the Israeli/Palestinian situation. I very well may write one about that later on, but for now, I want to talk about how her response made me feel.

At the time, when she made that comment, I let it slide by. I didn’t reply, but she definitely touched a nerve. I’d even say a sensitive spot in my heart.  I could never erase my Judaism, even if I converted to Christianity or to any other religion. I would always remain a Jew, at least by ethnic heritage.  A Jew remains a Jew. So, what can I, Anat Ghelber, do about it?  Especially with the situation in the Middle East, and people with obvious opinions like this girl’s, how can I prove to the world that Jews are not bad?

How can I show them that we are a people just like everyone else, trying to survive?

How can I be a better Jew or even a better person in general?

After all:

I still sometimes gossip.

I don’t always say I’m sorry to everyone I hurt.

I still don’t help the homeless as much as I should.

So, to make up for that, I’ve been telling myself that I need to make a pact try to help one homeless person a week.

I’ve been promising myself to feed hungry cats every night on my street by leaving them tuna cans (they’re literally only $2.00!)

With all this negative publicity about Judaism it seems, how can I be a better Jew?

I could meditate before I leave the house, and as a result, be more patient towards others.

I could try to be more patient with my cat Sara.

I most definitely need to learn to be a better friend. There are many times that I’ve taken from friends, but didn’t give much back. I wasn’t there for them loyally like they were for me.

All in all, am I a good Jew?

I just don’t know. I’m disappointed in myself for the many things I’ve done. I feel like I try but I don’t try hard enough, I make compromises.

I only eat Kosher and although I do use electricity on Shabbat, I don’t light any fires.

All in all what really matters, in my humble opinion, is how well we treat ourselves and as a result, treat others.

Smile at a person who looks sad.

Feed a hungry animal.

Take deep breaths before we start the day.

Let people be the way they want to be.

So, even if this girl at work wears weird clothing and is socially awkward and makes negative comments about Israel, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve to be treated equally.

She’s a person just like everyone else, we don’t know her story or what she’s been through.

Can we all dare to be ourselves, speak our hearts, and show the world who we really are? Even if we’re afraid how people will respond?

Can we be authentic?

Can we cry on a sad day and smile when we’re really happy?

How can we be better Jews?

How can we be better people in general?

Despite whatever I’ve done wrong as a Jew, can I learn to forgive myself and therefore, forgive others?

About the Author
Anat Ghelber was born in Israel and moved to Texas when she was 13. She experienced anti-Semitism in public schools there. She moved to New York City when she was 20, and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. She started submitting articles to the Jewish Voice two years ago. In her free time enjoys writing poems. She's also a certified Yoga teacher with 200 hours of training who teaches in a donation-based studio called Yoga to the People in New York City.
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