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It could take years to explain, record, and understand all of this…However, I think that I’ve come to a general conclusion, for the present moment that is…I believe in God. While a lot has changed since that spring-break trip with my parents and siblings, I still don’t know what kind of Jew I am. I now write “G-d” without the “o” out of honor and respect. I bless my food when I eat, my hands hovering over the plate. As an internationally touring spoken word poet, activist, journalist, and educator, I have spent my life and career speaking publicly about being a rape survivor and about my decade-long eating disorder.
I share my most personal experiences and thoughts; I speak up and out for people of color and queer rights, about dismantling ableism, transphobia, classism, violence and war, to create a just world where everyone can choose to share their own stories and truths.
He fought the Nazis in Germany, receiving a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
On September 8, 1945, six days after World War II officially ended, my grandfather writes his dad a letter, wishing him a Happy New Year, telling him he attended services at the Munich opera house with two thousand other soldiers and refugees: “Yes Dad, I’ll long remember observing the high holidays in Munich, one of the centers of Hitler’s Nazism.” He also mentions the 55,000 displaced Jews still stranded in camps in Bavaria, and asks his father to send him not cash, but clothes, soap and toothpaste for those in need.
Of the dozens of rabbis I know personally and professionally, I knew Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow would have a meaningful perspective; I’ve always been inspired by his pulse on questions that concern vulnerability, authenticity and voice. This complicates and questions my authenticity and desire to speak out when I – an American Jew – am not inherently part of that space.
It’s as if the air brings total peace to my body…It’s as if my heritage is my medicine soothing my complaints…I always thought this was HOME and HOLY only to the Jews.
I understand and empathize with the existence of and right for a Jewish national state.
I cannot overlook the terrifyingly vast amount of anti-Semitism that exists worldwide and I recognize the Holocaust’s impact on making the establishment of a Jewish state a literal life-or-death necessity.
The Torah states 36 times to honor the stranger as one’s self. How can I unwaveringly support a Jewish state that is in any way contributing to the suffering of others?
Deep down, however, I know this means that my great-great-grandfather’s commitment to Jewish ethics, tradition, and community have been passed down to me, and that it has prevailed.