By Hannah Repole, Guest Columnist
“Always be with someone, especially at night, unfortunately. Hide the Jewish star when alone and in new places or even just take it off. This is scary,” texted my mom.
For the first time in years, I left my Jewish star on my desk and I don’t plan on wearing it until I feel safe to express my Jewish identity. Hearing these words from my mother, my bubbie (grandmother) and my host mother solidified the fear that I already knew—I cannot openly be a Jew right now. As easy as this might sound, it’s truly the hardest thing. Being Jewish is who I am and who I will always be. These feelings are being felt by so many Jews throughout the world right now.
Studying abroad in Rome without the support of Hillel by my side is a constant struggle. I miss my Jewish family at Gettysburg College and I wish I was there with my community. But even from Rome, I understand the struggle that they encounter every day on campus. They struggle with being tired; the forever brain fog that we all have. Trying to focus on anything but safety and getting through the end of the day is impossible. At a time like this, homework and exams seem like nothing compared to the mental stress we are all under. The feelings we are all having are honestly indescribable and the pain is forever resonating. Right now we are all going through intense trauma—it’s okay to not be okay.
With everything happening in the world right now, antisemitism is the worst it’s been in a very long time, and I fear for my peers and myself’s safety. This world is unpredictable and waiting for something bad to happen instead of being proactive is a death sentence. But with fear, we still feel the need to represent and respect who we are and who we always will be. Please reach out to your Jewish friends and ask if they are okay—they need your support and protection.
Let it be clear I’m not here to pick a side or give a history lesson. I’m here to simply explain what it feels like to be a Jewish person in the world right now.