Addressing Personal Anti-Semitism

Hummus Where the Heart Is has grown to be a place of self-reflection, a creative outlet, emotional relief and so much more. Since I began this journey I have worked specifically to incorporate the ideals of Judaism into my life and activities as often as I can, and each day I am prouder to be a Jewish woman.

Although in 2018, anti-semitism is still prevalent. In my last post, I shared my 4 day journey after hearing about and the Pittsburgh hate crime massacre and surrounding myself by people who represent my Jewish community.

Also in my previous post, I included social media updates and love from people of my hometown, Deerfield, IL which is a predominantly Jewish area.  

But at the University of Iowa and in Iowa City, my religion defines me as one of a minority. While I have succeeded in my purpose of Hummus Where the Heart Is to incorporate my past experiences to my current college life, I sometimes fail to think about the organizations that I claim membership to here and how not everyone is of the same religion and we can believe different things.

Anti-semitism isn’t something that I thought would personally happen to me, until it did. And this Monday morning I encountered a situation that left me sick to my stomach and crying in lecture at 11am.

Since I’m not sure how to tell this story, I am going to be as open and as vulnerable as possible…

At the University of Iowa, I am a member of the student organization and social sorority, Delta Delta Delta, and for the past year I have served as Chapter President. While it is one of the hardest leadership roles I have ever taken on, the opportunity to guide a group of 150 women, be the face and voice of the chapter in the Panhellenic community, attend 2 national leadership conferences and more has made it absolutely worthwhile. But day to day, I have to deal with many disciplinary situations regarding finances, academics and volunteer hours and it often gets hard having to be ‘the bad guy’.

Due to confidentiality reasons I will keep this story brief, but it is crucial to the situation that left me devastated how one girl could turn around and use anti-semitic slurs against me.

Last night, I held a Standards meeting with a member who was absent from a mandatory chapter event and did not send an excused reason prior. And due to written bylaws, we had to meet with her to hold her accountable for the actions. I told her she would have to be assessed the $100 fine, as stated in the bylaws, for her absence. She said she understood and left the room.

It wasn’t until this morning when my friend in the chapter, Becca, texted me that messages from a text group chat were being gossiped around the house that the previous girl was not happy with the outcome of her meeting and started making comments about how my poor decisions and actions come from me being Jewish.

My jaw dropped. I do not want to gossip now either, but that girl is Catholic, and while we are different religions I would never think to claim our differences back to them from a situation that did not revolve around it at all.

I felt attacked. Not only could I not believe what she said about me, but it seemed like some other girls in the group message were supporting it and making similar remarks.

My other friend, Haley, was supportive and took to our Facebook group and shared a wonderfully worded message about how this is not okay, and I want to share it here.

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The post received a lot of love and attention so it made me feel stronger. As President for the past year, I have committed so much time and effort to be a leader for these women, and I do not want to be torn apart for a religion I feel so close to when the decision I made last night was completely separate and had to be done due to my role and our bylaws.

While I have not seen the exact messages, and I do not think I want to, Becca and Haley have informed me that the quoted sayings in her post were things the things that were actually said.

They also talked about my Facebook profile picture in which I added the #TogetherAgainstAntiSemitism frame after the MASSACRE of Jews last weekend, yet they shunned me for publicly showing that I am Jewish.

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Honestly, I do not know how I feel moving forward.

While some of my best friends in Tri Delta – Becca, Allyson, Abby, Kendall, Kylie and Skyler are all Jewish – I do recognize that we may be the minority of our 150 members but I have never felt hindered by it until now.

But, no I am not ashamed to be Jewish in any way shape or form. I am proud of my religious immersion in Israel this summer and the commitment I have made to expand on those beliefs at home.

I am proud to idolize Judaism. I am proud of my participation in Students Supporting Israel. I am proud to have worked at the Jewish Community Center. I am proud to celebrate Shabbat.

I am proud to wear my Israeli Hamsa necklace every day. I am proud to show public support after tragedy within my community.  And I am proud to be a stronger, Jewish woman, who has overcome a personal claim of Anti-semitism toward her. No matter how big or how small, this situation affected me and I plan to grow from it.

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