Community is important.Whether it be people within your religion, your classmates, or even your family, it is a way to feel connected to others even if there are other differences in your life. With a community, you all have something in common, and that commonality allows you to feel grounded and happy. Depending on the type of community, someone might not fit in, and they are an outsider to this group. That outsider; however, does not deserve to be shamed or hated for not belonging. This is an issue when it comes to a lot of communities.
Personally, I identify most with my religion. I come from a reform Jewish upbringing. I am an atheist; however, ethnically I am very Jewish. My favorite part of my childhood was going to the jewish sleepaway camp that my cousins went to, our parents went to, and our parents’ parents went to. Pinemere Camp was an extremely influential time in my life, and it helped me understand what it means to be jewish. We did the prayers over the bread before every meal, and celebrated shabbat every Friday night and Saturday morning. Services were always inclusive, and every Thursday you were allowed to sign you and your friends up to lead whichever prayers you wanted. Everyone wore khakis and white shirts to synagogue, so we all matched.
Sure, anyone who is not jewish is not considered to be a part of this community. That does not mean that they cannot enjoy our traditions and gatherings. Another huge part of my camp was bringing in international counselors. They were from all around the world. Many of them were from Israel, and many of them were Jewish. But a lot of them were not. There were no issues, and no one felt like they did not belong. When you are a part of a community, you should always consider others feelings and situations. It would be a different situation if whoever was coming in was being discriminatory. When an outsider to Judaism makes it clear they do not like our community, and they become anti-semetic, hateful, and violent, then our community stands together to fight for our religious freedom. *Edit from October 15th: Along with this I would also like to say that personally, I am not Israeli. My jewish haritage does not have ties there, nor do we consider ourselves zionists.
If you have ever heard the word Mensch, that’s what it’s all about. Being a mensch means loving and accepting everyone, and always considering how your actions affect others. In international politics it becomes very complicated when religion and policy mix. You can see in Israel right now, the Hamas organization is bombing Israel, and there are a lot of outsiders still blaming Jews for the years of torment in Palestine. Communities are not their government, and you cannot blame all jewish people, especially the ones who are not even Israeli or from Israel, for what is going on. The hate and anger is being thrown onto us, and they are not considering what is happening to innocent lives of Jews that were lost. People need to pull themselves away from their own biases, and focus on governmental push back. The Israel government has been violent towards Palestine for years, there is no denying that. The fight for the holy land will probably never end, and it will be years before there are any real resolutions. That does not justify bombing and killing innocent children and young adults for political gain. When religion and politics mix, things become very complicated, and it ends up with massive damage on all fronts.