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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.

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 137

(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.

(131) judith, December 27, 2015 9:29 PM

For Jesse. Louisiana Jew

I am from the Baton Rouge area. I would love to talk to you. Please email me. -Judith May God bless you and keep you safe!

(130) Martina Yisraela Rieffer, September 15, 2015 10:39 AM

I totally agree with Yente. Wear and express your Jewish Pride, no matter what the circumstances.

(129) Baruch Futch, April 27, 2015 3:22 PM

Nothing to be ashamed of

I understand how you feel. As one who has rebuffed the assimilation of my ancestors and am now a practicing Jew I, too have experienced my share of this same treatment, even from my own family. As we do not want to be stereotyped, please do not stereotype all Christians because of the actions of these from Lousiana. I have met and interacted with many Christians that truley love Jews and Israel. Blessings as you grow in the faith.

(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!

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