Mar 01
nonfiction challenge: Teenager


       Being a teenager, to me, means that more than ever I have to hold on as tight as I can to my identity. When I was 12, I watched as the Capitol building was stormed. I watched people at that riot wearing shirts that read “6MWE,” meaning 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust wasn’t enough. Seeing all my favorite Disney movies have “Jewish-coded” villains, being portrayed with harmful Jewish stereotypes. I read young adult-level books about the Holocaust on my own in elementary school – I read Anne Frank’s diary in its entirety in a week the summer before 8th grade.

       When I was in 5th grade I asked my teacher if we could make Hanukkah decorations with the Christmas ones too, and she told me that it wouldn’t make sense because I was the only Jewish kid. All through elementary school I would celebrate Christmas and Easter and all the Christian holidays because I didn’t know any other Jewish kids besides my cousins, and I felt left out. Antisemitic attacks increased by 41% in 2022.

       As a teenager, I’ve learned to see the beauty and strength that comes from my Judaism and my strong ancestors. My great-grandmother illegally hid on a ship and emigrated from Russia to the United States when she was also a teenager because she was an orphan and had nowhere else to go. Whenever I feel like I cannot change anything because I am too young, I remember her. I remember her two older brothers who stayed in Russia because they could get jobs, and her younger sister who stayed too because she was cute enough to be adopted. I remember how they stayed, and they must have been caught in the Holocaust, but nobody will ever know.

       To me, being a teenager means remembering the people I look up to. It means to never stop fighting for my rights because maybe my children, and all the children of the future, won’t have to experience antisemitism or feel as alone as I did. 

About the Author: solentsorrows
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