The Day I Started Wearing My Mogen David

Until now, I’ve never worn a Jewish symbol in public. I don’t wear a Kippah, I don’t have a necklace with my name in Hebrew, not even a Star of David jewelry. I never felt like I needed it. Or more broadly, never felt the need the express my Jewish identity physically. Before I came here, I thought a lot about what to wear. What should I do, that will send a clear message about all the different identities I am holding. Mizrachi, Ashkenazi, Israeli, my love for books and mythologies, my taste in music, my heritage. I am always thinking about what first impression people will have of me. None of those involved Jewishness.  

In Israel, the Jewish is the public space. I believed that if you do put on a Jewish symbol, it reflects your level of faith. How strong are your beliefs. And I am not a religious person, quite the opposite. And like me, so are many other Israelis. We feel like Judaism is for religious people, and we have other worlds. But since I joined the Shlichut, I started a journey. Changing the way I view Judaism, changing the place Judaism holds in me.  

And then October happened. And then Antisemitism rose. At first, I felt attacked. My Israeli identity was being attacked; my Jewish identity was attacked. I heard suggestions not to show any Jewish signs, not to provoke, not to stand out. I didn’t follow. I saw many others showing proudly their Jewish and Israeli identity, each one in its own way. I felt more than just Israeli, I felt Jewish. And I wanted to make sure no one was missing that piece. Davka, out of spite. Just because. 

And then a thought came to mind. I felt more complete. Not because I believe there’s a higher power, that’s a different conversation. I felt like I was looking back and seeing 3000 thousand years of history, each one growing through a different challenge. Gam Ze Ya’avor, this too shall pass. From one to another, each one of us is facing our own trauma. And that collective wisdom, of how to act better as a community, to act better as individuals, is making us stronger, more resilient.  

I didn’t believe in phrases like “Am Israel Chai,” now it brings me to tears. I didn’t used to wear a Mogen David, now I wear it wherever I go. Things are changing, or maybe it’s because I am getting closer to 30 and introspective. Who knows. It is a question I will think about for a long time to come. 

 In the meantime, let’s focus on another Jewish holiday where somebody tried to get rid of the Jewish people and didn’t succeed, and celebrate it the only way we know… with food, wine, and company.  And pray that all the hostages, and everybody else, are safe and back in their homes.  

Chag Purim Sameach!