Leave the Haters to Hate; Why We Love Being Jewish:

by Sarah Brammer-Shlay

On the morning of Wednesday August 21, I sat in my interfaith workplace and a conversation began about what it means to call yourself “Jewish.” And then, all of a sudden, I was crying. When I cry, I pay attention. My attention brought me to realize that over the past 12 hours I had replayed the scene of Donald Trump calling Jews “disloyal” countless times. And a few days prior, I watched footage over and over again of Jews being attacked with a moving car by an ICE officer in Rhode Island as they protested the inhumane detention of immigrants in ICE detention centers. And I have paid attention to the way this administration uses Jews as pawns to further right-wing and oppressive policies. I was exhausted. I felt like Jews had been a punching bag and the bounce back time on the bag was getting slower by the second.

We are seldom alone in our emotion, though. As Jews and as humans, we should have ample space to feel fear, sadness, and anger. If one is not feeling this at this time, one is not paying close enough attention. However, when we forget ALL of the emotional aspects of what it means for us to be a Jew, we lose out on our full humanity. As Mordecai Kaplan said, “No form of human life can be whole or healthy except in an environment that strives for wholeness.” We cannot only feel like a punching bag but we also must feel joy and pride. And so upon this thought, I turned to Facebook and wrote the following:

Hi Jews. I love you. What do you love about Judaism, Jews and being Jewish? Like literally write it in the comments please.

(Necessary to counter the emotional overwhelm of this current political moment and our being used by this administration constantly to facilitate others and our own oppression)

Within roughly 24 hours, I had 65 comments and 106 “likes” and “loves.” People wrote me privately telling me that reading through the thread gave them the strength and smiles they needed to get through the day. Here are a few of the wonderful things that people shared: 

May our sources of pride, love and joy remind us why our culture, people and tradition is worth fighting for. And why even when powerful forces try to break us down, we hold onto the reasons we love ourselves.

Sarah Brammer-Shlay is a Rabbinical Student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a community organizer committed to fighting for freedom and dignity for all people. She also has a deep obsession with vegan buffalo wings. 

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