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Judaism and How You Can Get Involved

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

by Karena Balagula, Los Angeles, CA

With everything happening in the world, many can quickly become hopeless. Recent events like the Pittsburgh shooting at a local synagogue brought tears to tens of thousands of people. However, these events such as the burning of Swastikas in Georgia by neo-Nazis with the National Socialist Movement earlier this year, bring awareness to a problem. History is on the track of being repeated. Hatred is spreading and it is spreading fast. The Holocaust happened just 70 years ago; it was recent enough that my grandparents can say "I was there." Antisemitism has been an issue Jews have suffered from the beginning of time. But why? What inspires people to act out against a group in this way? Why does hatred run so deep in the world around us? The Pittsburgh shooter ended the lives of 11 of our Jewish brothers and sisters and yet it wasn't enough for him. He continued with saying that he wants all Jews to die. Yesterday (November 20 2018) Duke University's mural honoring the victims of Pittsburgh was defaced with Swastikas. Antisemitism is happening all around us.

As a Jewish teen I have never personally felt afraid to go to my local synagogue or attend Shabbat services with my friends and family. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. It breaks my heart to hear that my friends have family members that are no longer comfortable attending services at their Synagogues. A friend of mine who lives in Pittsburgh hasn't been in a Synagogue since the incident and her whole family is no longer wearing their Hamsa bracelets. Her grandfather is terrified of the world around him and does not feel comfortable even talking about what happened. This is beyond heart breaking and the fact that our community feels like they have to live in the shadows is an outrage of itself.

We need to educate ourselves on the world around us and make sure that we stand united against these ongoing hate crimes. As Jewish youth what we can do is get involved in organizations like BBYO (B'nai B'rith Youth Organization) , NFTY ( North American Federation of Temple Youth), NCSY (National Conference of Synagogue Youth), as well as numerous others near you. These groups give teenagers a platform to talk about their struggles and worries with no judgement. They are safe spaces for all Jewish youth. No matter where you are you can become connected with people going through the same issues.


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