Jewish star upon my sleeve

What does it mean to be Jewish and to support Israel in 2022? To me, a 19 year old girl taking a gap year in seminary during COVID-19, it means looking at my home country with judgmental eyes. Here I am, finally in the land I love, the land of my ancestors, and I am so upset at the government or rather the Exceptions Committee, the delegates of which are as mysterious as the new variant emerging in France. My mother was born in Israel in the year,—just kidding, Mom—making me a dual citizen, American and Israeli. As of December 29th, this has been quite a challenge, as the Israeli government decided that I would be forced to go through an Exceptions Committee if I were to leave the country, regardless of my being born and raised in New York and my plans to return home after the year.

As of December 29th, my American passport went out the window and only my Israeli passport seemed to be of utmost importance, and I know I’m not the only one with this issue as I’ve heard far worse horror stories. My request to go home was rejected three times, despite providing a copy of my birth certificate, a school transcript and a work check all proving my residency in America. This has been frustrating to say the least and has caused utter disappointment in the country I so dearly love and cherish. 

By the same token, Israel is doing great things, as many know, leading in technology, startups and innovation. Additionally, COVID tests now seem to be a scarce luxury in America, while in Israel all one must do is go to their local Hatzalah or Super Pharm and they’ll receive their PCR or Antigen Rapid test results in no time. 

Now I wonder if things were the other way around, if Israel were lacking in COVID tests, what would people, mainly left wing celebrities be saying, or rather posting to their millions of Instagram followers? What I’ve learned through all of this is that I can be critical of a country and certain decisions that have been made, while remaining in “support” of said country—-whatever that means. Blake Flayton, a young Jewish activist who founded the New Zionist Congress said that he is

NOT pro-Israel. Is there such a thing as being pro-France? NO. Only one state on earth has its very legitimacy questioned. I’m anti your efforts to destroy the only Jewish State.

As I feel a strong connection to the homeland of my ancestors, I can’t help but feel somewhat guilty for wanting to go home, to my birthplace, to America. Jews in the Diaspora have been denied entry into their homeland, and here I am desperately trying to get out. I suppose we truly only want what we cannot have. Perhaps this explains why Bella Hadid and Emma Watson are so adamant on abolishing Israel. A question begging to be answered is whether they would actually visit the land if they had it their way, or do they merely wish to have what they can’t, to play helpless victims and to be viewed as “woke.”  

Being a Jew whose blood boils every time I see an anti-Zionist post, article or quote, it can be difficult to navigate certain situations in America. I remember when I was applying to college from my modern orthodox school, and I was specifically told not to write about the Chabad and Hillel on campus, the incredible Jewish life and great percentage of Jewish students in my “Why NYU?” essay prompt. I additionally left out my participation in the Israel Awareness club. I was told that it was already “enough” that the college admissions officers would see that I went to a private Jewish school, and that there was no need to rub it in their faces.  Would a French person have to leave out their participation in the France Awareness club? According to Blake Flayton’s expertise, there would never even be a France Awareness club. 

If I am applying for an internship, I better not include my Times of Israel articles or my poem entailing living a Jewish life. Once again, it’s bad enough they see I went to a Jewish private school. Then you add on my gap year in seminary, and boom, just like that, my resume is in the rejection pile that sits on the table of the cold and heartless boardroom. 

Do I continue living as though my Jewish identity is something that must stay hidden, as though it is something to be ashamed of? Do I continue to conveniently leave out certain passions and projects of mine? 

Do I take pride in my beliefs, religion and homeland, continue working on these passions and pray nobody with opposing beliefs is reading my application? 

Or do I do so and decide that I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. 

Ask yourself: what would you do?

About the Author
My name is Kayla Hutt and I am currently a student at Midreshet Moriah in Jerusalem. I have always had a passion for writing and bringing new information to light, which I will explore at NYU over the coarse of the next four years. I am one of five and a triplet with two boys. I have written for my hometown newspaper, the Great Neck Record, regarding Covid-19 and its effect on students. This past summer, I held an internship for End Jew Hatred, managing a group-chat of big name blue check influencers that fight against antisemitism and anti-zionism. It would fulfill my passion, and would be a great honor to be published in the Times of Israel, especially as I spend my year residing and studying in the holy land.
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