Op-Ed: Being Jewish is not a lifestyle, it’s a culture

Jacqueline Aquian, Reporter

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Living as a Hispanic teenager in a place where it isn’t easy to open yourself and express your beliefs and opinions.

The Jewish life is different for everyone who is a Jew, there are several things that I know growing up as a Judeo-Christian and then official accepting our Jewish culture when I was very young. It is a lifestyle well taken care of in my family.

In my family, we do not celebrate holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and more, because it is against what God teaches us through his words. We do our best with our faith and our belief. To many people being a Jew is a religion but to me and my family, it is our life. We live to be who we are and being Jewish is our faith, our way of being.

Only my parents, my brothers and I are Jewish and celebrate the Jewish holidays since both sides of my parents’ families do not really affiliate with us. It doesn’t stop me and my family from staying with God and our hearts.

This month we will be doing Hanukkah, a very well-known Jewish celebration. It happens in December or late November, and it goes on for eight days and nights. Through the eight days, we do many activities as a family such as pray, eat Hanukkah dishes, play the dreidel game, read the bible and children receive presents.

During Hanukkah, we light the candles on the menorah one candle for each day, and let it burn out through the night. When I was younger, I couldn’t express my Jewish faith because I would be bullied for being different. I was already bullied for being short and for my name, so if anyone knew what my faith and how I identify, it would surely affect me.

Being Jewish was something I hid from the world because I saw so much racism and criticism from so many people. I didn’t want to be one of them.

I am happy now, I can be open and not feel ashamed to be Jewish. I have a workplace that accepts who I am. I have people that don’t criticize me about my beliefs but accept me.

They allow me to place my own decorations for my celebrations, instead of denying me. Now I openly and proudly say I am a Jew because I am not going to hide anymore.

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