Respect my Jewish Identity

Sam Gauntt

First-year transfer studies student Izzy Chase says being a Jew is an important part of her identity. If you experience bias on campus, you can reach out to

Izzy Chase, Reporter

I love being Jewish. It’s a core part of my identity.
Lately, though, I can’t help but feel that my safety as a Jewish person has been compromised. I now have to be careful with what I say and who I say it in front of.
It started last semester when my class let out early and a boy approached me. He was nice and we had talked a couple of times before, exchanging formalities such as names. I thought this conversation would be similar, until he asked me what my relationship with God is, and I froze.
I didn’t know how to answer. I explained that I was Jewish and he responded with a patronizing, “Nice, like Abraham.” I then went on to explain my beliefs to him.
He listened, or at least pretended to, interjecting with remarks like, “How Jewish are you?” and, “What side of your family is Jewish?” I felt uncomfortable but saw it as a teaching opportunity.
When our conversation was ending, he told me about the Holy Spirit and explained that I could and should experience it physically.
I was startled. I have no problems with Christians or others’ beliefs, but after I had taken the time to explain Judaism and my own personal relationship with it, he completely dismissed me. I walked away feeling ashamed and embarrassed.
Judaism is an ethnoreligion, and for that reason my Jewishness is an inseparable part of my identity. It makes me, me.
There isn’t a singular way to be Jewish. But when you are a part of a religious minority like Judaism, you are forced to represent everyone. I get scared that someone will listen to me and then turn around and harass another Jewish person by saying, “If you’re Jewish, why do you do this when Izzy does that?”
People fail to see how prevalent antisemitism is, but it’s a part of my everyday life. I refuse to stop calling myself Jewish and it will always be something that I’m proud of. But my safety is something that I always have to think about.
I can’t help but wish it wasn’t like that.