To my sweet baby girl,
Jewish is not what you are, but rather who you are. Your dad was born in Israel, where much of his family still remains, and your mother was born and raised in an American-Jewish family. But I want you to know that being Jewish is so much more than just what we believe. It's our culture. It's our way of life. It's our community.
And it's under attack. Again.
You, an American Jew, attend a Jewish school without fear, live in a heavily populated Jewish neighborhood, and practice your religion freely. Your Israeli family, living in a Jewish state, walk the streets anticipating the next air raid siren, countdown days until they are required to serve in the IDF, and live with a war raging all around them. As I write this, they are literally dodging missiles on their way to the grocery store, when they're relaxing on the beach, and when they are trying to appreciate a family dinner; whereas we are so often taking the silence and freedom for granted.
But you have more in common with your Israeli family than you think. Your roots create a close bond that cannot be discredited simply based on the thousands of miles that separate you. Despite where you live, I hope the passion of Judaism burns bright in you, as it has in your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and beyond. I hope that you always walk with your head high, knowing that throughout history your people have been tested and we have prevailed. You will sometimes feel as though you are an outsider. People will go out of their way to make you feel different, belittled, and insignificant. It's not easy to be the minority, especially when your people have been targeted so many times. It is during these times that I hope you walk a little taller and speak a little clearer, for it is during these times that our resiliency has proven to be indestructible. People will chastise you, make absurd accusations, and ostracize you for simply being Jewish. They will try to deny history, point fingers in the opposite directions without fully knowing the facts, and blame you for some of the most farfetched things you can imagine. How incredibly sad for them that they can't open their eyes and see the truth.
Ignore them. Don't for a second let them shake your beliefs or your confidence. You can't argue with history, you can't argue with facts, and you most certainly can't argue with ignorance. People see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe, despite if it is rooted in the truth or not. That is not your battle your fight. It is not your job to try and change them or teach them. It is, however, your job to keep living your life, as a strong Jew, and not let their stupidity rub off on you. Rise above the hatred and you will always come out on top. Just look in any history book if you don't believe me.
As I sit and watch the news of the relentless attacks on Israel and the terrifying acts of anti-semitism happening around the globe, I think of you growing up in the midst of this. I imagine you introducing yourself to the world as a Jewish adult, and I imagine you raising your own Jewish family. Not for a second do I imagine that these things won't be possible. There will always be challenges. There will always be struggles. But there will always be a sense of pride that refuses to be extinguished within the Jewish people, even in the darkest of times. My hope is that you carry that flame with you as you journey into this life as a Jewish woman. A Jewish woman who knows the value of what her brethren are fighting for.
Taken on the beach in Tel Aviv last summer.