Back to School: Maintaining Your Jewish Identity

6 years ago Hannah Butcher 0

It’s that time of the year again; new schedules are placed in our hands, our backpacks are strapped on tight, and our pencils are freshly sharpened. That’s right: it’s time to go back to school.

As with any time of the year, Jewish identity is of utmost importance. “I’m a Jew and I’m proud / and that’s without a doubt” is a line from one of our favorite songs at CTeen, after all. Our Jewish identities guide us in every possible situation as human beings, and we embrace it with every part of our neshama. However, many of us attend public schools where Jewish pride is harder to spot. At my school, for instance, keeping my Jewish identity is a particular challenge. My school is a mixing pot of identities and opinions, the majority of the population being secular.

So how can a Jewish teen maintain his or her identity in a secular public school?

First of all, never feel ashamed or different because of your identity! Being a Jew is a special gift given to us by G-d, and we should never feel as if we have to keep quiet about who we are. Therefore, if someone at school asks you a question about your religion, answer it truthfully and thoughtfully. You can educate your friends about Judaism, and perhaps you will inspire them in the process.

It is important to continue to perform mitzvahs, like opening the door for your peers, greeting teachers with a smile, introducing yourself to a new student, or helping a fellow classmate understand a lesson. Be the light other people wish to see.

If you overhear injustice or something morally wrong during the school day, stand up for what you believe in. See someone bullying someone else? Stand up for the person. Being Jewish means holding your beliefs enough to help yourself and others around you.

One of the most important things you can do is keep G-d in your mind. When your alarm goes off at 6:00 in the morning, thank Him for giving you another day. Before you eat lunch in the cafeteria, thank Him for giving you the food you need to continue your education. Being mindful is an important step to strengthening your Jewish identity.

If you do all of these things, you will be sure to keep your Jewish identity strong as you move through the new school year. Mazel Tov to a new year and new opportunities to increase your knowledge and wisdom!