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Louisiana Jew

Louisiana Jew

A troubled Jew's apology.

by

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.

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Visitor Comments: 141

(136) chris langton, June 6, 2017 2:36 PM

No Shame !!

Way to go girl xx

(135) joe mahoney, March 3, 2017 7:32 AM

lftom a small town

I too am a small town so rI know the pain but I don't take my frustrations out on antone including myself.

(134) Sheldon Dan, February 14, 2017 6:11 PM

No Apology Needed

I just read your article. I'm sorry you had to go through this, and from what I can gather this is relatively recent. Apparently there are areas where this attitude is still prevalent--it sounds as if it could have happened 50 years ago there. No, you are not to blame--you tried to survive in a world where there were anti-Semites, even your teachers, who were just intolerant. I hope that you don't still feel you have to apologize to anyone for just being a Jew in an isolated area and that you have more reason to feel pride years later.

(133) yitzchak, November 18, 2016 5:41 AM

same boat, differnt water

I was born in Texas in the mid 50's. when I was 8 years old I was beaten up because I killed yoshka. regardless of what I said, they continued until the neighbourhood changed flavor and the locals didn't even know what a jew was. I am a bal tshuvah now for over 40 years and know how and when to answer the non-jews i meet. one of my son-in -laws teach the sheva mitzvahs (7 noahide laws) in a regular class to non-jews. we are different. we have a mission to bring light to this world by teaching, learning and doing mitzvahs whenever, wherever and as often as we can.
There is now CHABAD in Biloxi Miss, Baton Rouge La, Meterie, New Orleans, and Mobile Alabama. no Jew needs to be lacking in Yiddishkeit regardless of where they are. we must be proud and do our best to bring light to the world through torah and mitzvos..we can only do that by knowing what G-d wants through learning the Torah and code of jewish law. I wish you great strength and continued growth

(132) Jerry, March 10, 2016 5:06 AM

Honestly, from your description, you sound like someone I would have at least admired and probably tried to hang out with. I'm not trying to kiss up to you, but to point out that the things you're worrying about appearing as could be seen as positive traits by someone standing next to you. Defensive, angry, chip on your shoulder, stubborn? Strong, no nonsense, resilient.

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