Being Jewish, I know that anti-Semitism and terrorism against our faith happens all the time. But I never thought, as a Jewish mother here in Texas, it would happen so close to home.
When you find a home in the world of your religion, it is important that your children feel at home there, too. My family has only been back in the area for three years and had just started attending at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, when the pandemic happened.
We still watched Shabbat virtually most weeks, and we still made an effort to be connected to things going on in the Jewish world. As the pandemic eased up in 2021, my daughter had started going to religious school and was making Jewish friends.
And then January 15, 2022, happened.
It has been a hard situation for me, as a Jewish mother. I am taking my time; I am healing just like the community. My children, being only five and two, don’t really understand what happened. I have cried, and my daughter asked me: “Why are you crying, Mommy?” It was hard to explain.
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I told her that Rabbi Charlie had been in trouble, but that he is okay and safe now. But that we wouldn’t be going to temple for a little while. She responded with: “Oh, I am glad Rabbi is okay, but I miss him.” She has an amazing heart, so full of love. She sees Rabbi Charlie almost every Sunday when she attends religious school. But I cannot send her by herself anymore.
This is what was taken away from us: Our sense of peace, security, and safety. We will not be back at our synagogue for a period of time, but no matter how much security they put around the building, where religious school is taking place I do not feel good about leaving her there alone. Even though I know the people who run religious school, I have to be there myself to know that if something were to happen, I did my best to save my family.
These are the things that Jews all over the world have to think about on a regular basis. Even though I wasn’t raised in a Jewish household. My mother being Jewish and my father being Catholic, I never worried when we went to church about someone coming in and trying to kill us. I never worried about it at temple with my grandparents either. But now, we have that worry. I have that worry because someone violated the place that we call our Jewish home.
I have always been Jewish, I will always be Jewish. I am proud to be Jewish. I didn’t find my footing in the religion until my 20s, but I always felt connected to it. I celebrated both Jewish and Catholic holidays growing up. I went to Temple in St. Louis, Missouri with my grandparents. I recited blessings in Hebrew, and continued to learn.
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I was lucky to be able to go on the Birthright trip to Israel while I was in college. This really solidified my love of the Jewish religion. Israel is a beautiful country. It has history, but there is still a newness to it. I learned so much while I was there and became more deeply rooted and connected to my Jewish faith.
And I still continue to learn. I have met so many wonderful people on this journey as Jewish mother, and I have seen how much of a community the Jewish people are to each other.
As we are healing, it has been wonderful to reach out to people online and in the area. If you want to know more about how you can help your Jewish community, become their ally, find the resources near you, and offer your support.
We must continue to fight against anti-Semitism for our children to have a better world to live in. Here are some resources to help members of the Jewish community, as well as others who would like to learn and support it.
- Congregation Beth Israel
- Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County
- Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas
- Jewish News Source