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Louisiana Jew

Louisiana Jew

A troubled Jew's apology.


There are not many Jews in my part of Louisiana. In fact, I'm the first (openly) Jewish person most of my friends had ever met. Even most of my own family denounced their Judaism for the sake of "safety and social status" after moving here from Austria and Germany.

I refused. My mother, who passed away when I was 16, didn't raise me that way. So ever since grade school, I've worn a Star of David around my neck, regardless of what threats and rumors were circulating. And circulate they did; my first religious fight was in the first grade. She was on the "good side" as a Christian, and I was the "bad side" as a Jew.

I was not a popular kid among students or teachers. In our heavily southern-Baptist town, wearing a star of any kind is not the way to gain popularity. By the time sixth grade rolled around, my peers started pulling sick rumors about the "baby-microwaving, Jesus-murdering Satanic Jewish girl."

I was frazzled by the illogic of it all. Where would a 12-year-old get a supply of babies to be microwaving on a regular basis? Christ killer? I wasn't even alive 2,000 years ago. And I have yet to meet a Satanic Jew.

My teachers participated in the crusade by drawing crosses on my test papers, with a note saying "Jesus loves you." I figured it was illegal to write such a thing on a students paper, but I didn't know what to do.

So I hardened.

I became angry and sullen. Puberty was hitting me like a ton of bricks, my mother was sick with lung disease, and hereditary manic depression was setting in. I developed eating disorders. I self-injured. It's a long story. I was getting into fights and getting suspended.

My Jewish self became the innocent bystander in a troubled teen's body. I became a pariah, unable to separate the facts of my being psychotic and the innocent reality of being Jewish.

My belief in God is the only thing that kept me going (even though the other kids said I didn't believe in Him and that I was going to Hell).

I now realize I was the victim of good ol' anti-Semitism. The bullying started way before I was an angry teen, and it continues even to this day.

Now, at the ripe old age of 18, I wish I had handled things differently. I’m the only Jew these kids ever came in contact with, and maybe ever will. Whenever the word "Jew" is heard by their ignorant ears, they'll think of messed up me, with the Star of David dangling around my neck.

For all this, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry to the other Southern Jews. I am sorry to the American Jewish community. And I am sorry to the Jews in Israel. In the big picture, my impact on this small town may not matter much, but leaving anyone with a bad impression of Jews is the last thing we need.

So anger, imperfections and all, I will try harder. To be special, to shine the light.

That’s the way my mother raised me.

Published: July 3, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 133

(128) Leah, March 9, 2015 3:32 PM

I understand

I truly relate to you. I had inlaws from Louisiana, and unfortunately, suspicion of Jews is the norm there. But I also experienced ant-semitism in every US city I lived in, which is why I made aliyah to Israel. Now I am home!! You can come too!

(127) Guy Poronlong haired hippy, March 8, 2015 5:26 PM

I´m so sorry

In the 80th, I came from France to the United States and was travelling as a log.haired hippy! My six years old son travelled with me. We arrived in our old VW van that I bought cheap in New-York, in New-Orleans in January 1981! I wanted to sell my van and go on hitch-hiking. I didn´t know anybody there but HaShem lead me to a natural food shop and there I met a very friendly young girl...after a while of talks, she called her parents if we could stay at their house???They say "YES"! So we drove there!! It was a JEWISH family, I never can forget all what they do for me and my son, just living after Torah. I´m a JEW in my heart and met all around the world with GOD´s HELP helping Jews, where there was no help at" all...Hazak,hazak, v´nit´chazek!Shalom! Shalom

(126) José, March 8, 2015 11:46 AM

I am so sorry

As I goy, there are no words to express my sadness for what you (and many other Jewish people) went through. My deepest of sympathies. I hope and pray that one day anti-semitism is no more. Shalom

(125) Dasha16, October 3, 2014 11:13 AM

Horns on my head

During law school in the 1980's,in the midwest , my friend , also in law school politely asked where my horns were.

(124) Kimberly, August 7, 2014 3:33 PM

Please don't be so hard on yourself!

I know I don't know you, we've never met but I can tell from this article what a sweet kind-hearted person you are! I remember being in fourth grade and there was a terrible girl who yelled at me that I was going to hell for not believing Jesus was the messiah. I had a cruel teacher that just stood there. We were both in unfortunate situations to say the least. The most important thing is you're trying to be a light, that's all anyone can ask! Well done and my you know only joy and happiness from now on.

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