Varda Epstein

Letter to Josefin

Dear Josefin,

As my DH commented on your blog, When to wear your Star of David, you seem like a nice enough girl, even a VERY nice girl. But somewhat misguided and perhaps, having read your other blog posts, such as The Failure of interfaith relations, maybe even a little depressed. Josefin, I’m kind of worried about you.

On the other hand, it’s difficult for me to grok your timidity about and visible fear of your Jewish faith. Because, you see, for as long as I can remember, the clearest thing about me is my huge, even immoderate Jewish pride.

You wrote:

 “The ritual was familiar. As we boarded an airplane, we would take off our Stars of David. It was just a thing people did; I don’t think it was unique to my family.”

Blue Eyes

But that’s just the thing, Josefin—my parents never suggested I hide visible evidence of my Jewishness, no matter where we went. My parents were robustly, publicly, unendingly Jewish, not in an obnoxious Borscht Belt comedian sort of way, but in a matter of fact sort of way—the way some people have blue eyes, and others, brown.

And maybe that’s the main difference between you and me and the way we feel about being Jewish, Josefin. Values start with our parents and have a trickle-down effect on our children. I can’t remember a time when the essentialness of being Jewish was not the main thing about me. Sure I have secular interests: music, drama, literature, and politics, but all of these gain color and shape from my oh-so-Jewish perspective.

I am proud to be a Jew. That the majority of the world’s population hates me means diddly-squat to me because I am secure in my own identity. The Jews are the Chosen People, a light unto the nations. How could I feel anything BUT pride?

Straight And Tall

And whether I wear a Star of David, or walk the streets unadorned by Jewish symbols, I hold my shoulders straight and tall at the thought of my national history, the morality my God and my people brought to this world, and the wondrousness of my nation’s survival as promised by the Man Upstairs.

Dear Josefin, I really am very worried about you. Because if this fear of being visibly Jewish is your natural state, that could mean that, as you suggest, you are not alone. Maybe there are a lot of Josefins out there in the world, afraid to own those essential sparks of holiness handed down to them through the ages, from a time when Christianity and Islam did not exist.

Lucky for all of you, there’s a cure.  Repeat after me: “I am proud to be a Jew.”

Just keep saying it.

Say it when you awaken. Say it when you look in the mirror. Say it to yourself when you are on an airplane traveling to France and your hand nervously reaches up to play with (and hide) your Star of David. Say it out loud to your kids when you have them and say it to your Jewish peers. Every time those nagging feelings of insecurity or worthlessness rise up to plague your consciousness say it again, say it without ceasing.

Soon, it will be part of you and it will show all over you: your Jewishness. It will be the best and brightest part of you—the part you wear on the outside, the part that goes with anything and everything—the part of you that is YOU.




About the Author
Varda Epstein is a blogger and Communications Writer for