11.22.2021 (15 days ago)

The First Time

The First Time
15 days ago 7 comments Categories: Lifestyle Tags:

Recently I was asked to provide my high school yearbook to be scanned for a preservation project. The request brought me back to a very painful memory. One, I do not believe I truly processed as an adult.  I immediately thought of something that had been written in my yearbook. Someone else had written it but, yet, I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I was not sure I wanted anyone else to see it. 


I remember being a 17-year-old senior in high school. I was very proud and excited about my high school yearbook as I was the Co-Editor in Chief.  I brought that yearbook with me everywhere. One day I brought it to Food Town where I worked part time in the produce department and asked friends there to sign it.


One “friend” wrote of another friend “Andrea [not her real name] is a f###ing Jew.”  I remember that when the “friend” handed me back the yearbook he smiled and thanked me for asking him to sign. 


When I read what he had written I was shocked, dumbfounded,  and had no idea how to respond. That was my first experience with blatant anti-Semitism. I did not know what to say or how to feel. I did not even know whether the writer knew that I was Jewish.


So I said nothing. I slowly closed my yearbook, brought it home and put the book on a shelf. I have barely looked at it since that day. The book has moved with me from place to place but does not get opened. Those words took away all the joy that my yearbook held for me. Those words also forced me to  face, at 17, a very hard truth; that anti-Semitism was very real and lived even in young hearts (the writer was also 17).



In the years since, I have dealt with anti-Semitism and gender discrimination much  more openly. Yet this experience still haunts me. Probably because I said nothing. What would you have done?








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