The Worries of a Jewish Student

6 years ago eglazer 0

It began with a college essay prompt:  “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.” This prompt was different than the others. It wasn’t a prompt where the writer would lead to a cliche, or the readers would have an idea of what to expect, this prompt was personal, and everyone’s response would be different. This prompt meant that I could tell my own story different from others. This prompt meant I could write about being Jewish.


At first, I was excited to write about being Jewish and telling others who I am. But the more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. I thought about the possibility of my application falling into the hands of the wrong person. I didn’t want my essay to jeopardize my future. After discussing this with my teacher and CTeen Rabbi, I came to the conclusion that I should go through with writing the essay. But, the fear did not subside.


A few weeks passed, and I narrowed down my college decisions. And guess what? The colleges I’m applying to don’t require those specific  prompts. I had been nervous for nothing…but was it really nothing?


The feelings surrounded my now defunct essay still bothered me. Why was I concerned about getting rejected to a school because I’m proud of my religion? What type of world do we live in that a person can’t share their identity and feel completely comfortable doing so? The truth is, anti-semitism is still common in this world. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.


The number of anti-zionism organizations at American colleges has grown.  As of August 31, 2016 there are 218 colleges that have a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Sure, these are anti-zionism, but that is anti-Jewish. When a group voices their hate on Israel, they are voicing their hate on the Jewish homeland. These groups have their right to freedom of speech, but as a Jew, it makes me nervous to send in an application to a college explaining my Judaism when there’s a possibility that the person reading my essay could very well be a supporter of Students for Justice and Palestine, or the other anti-zionism organizations on campuses.


According to a recent article published on NBC this summer, the anti-semitic incidents on college campuses have doubled within the year. In 2015, there were 90 anti-Jewish incidents at 60 schools, that’s a huge increase from just a year before with 47 anti-Jewish incidents at 43 campuses. One specific, recurring act is the drawing of swastikas. There have been 120 reported swastikas sprayed beginning in April 2013 to September 18, 2016. It started at Tufts University, ended at Swarthmore College, and hit many campuses in between with the incident occurring multiple times at various locations. Who’s to say that on September 18th that would be the last swastika sprayed on a college campus?


I wish I could say that these anti-semitic incidents just happen on campus. But that would be a false statement. Anti semitism is a worldwide concept no matter how old a person is. I can’t help but be nervous that telling a college that I am Jewish will jeopardize my future education. But, I can happily express that as Jews we are coming back stronger, we don’t let the hate destroy us.  The number of Hillels, Chabads, and other Jewish organizations are continuing to open and grow in popularity on college campuses and they serve as a place where Jewish students feel at home. No matter what, I know that I will be safe and happy at any university I choose, because Hashem is always with me.