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I did not learn Hebrew in school. The only Hebrew language instruction that I received was in a Hebrew school that met twice per week. There, I gained the ability to read, write, and say a few basic words and my parents paid extra money for that. In public school, they taught French, Spanish, and Chinese, but not the language that was most important for me to know. I did not study ancient Jewish history, the history of the Jewish Diaspora, or even much modern Israeli history. Instead, we learned mainly about American history and politics, accompanied by some world history where more emphasis was given to the rise of Islam in the Middle East than to our heritage.

To make the situation worse, in my sculpture class, the teacher had us do Christmas decorations as an assignment. No art project related to Chanukkah was given to accompany it. I was infuriated. I yelled at the teacher in front of the whole class that she was violating the US Constitution, which stresses that there needs to be a separation of church and state, at age 15 (Most of the non-Christian kids in the class lacked my courage and suffered through the assignment in silence). She responded that I could do the assignment or get an F for the project, whichever I chose. In the end, I dropped the course as it was an elective to begin with as I already fulfilled my fine arts requirement by taking painting and drama the previous year. Other students who did not fulfill their fine arts requirement did not have that option.


I am about to be a mother myself. If there is one thing that I want to provide for my daughter, it is to live in a Jewish environment, to be provided top quality Jewish education, and to not suffer the anti-semitism that I did. Looking back at my childhood, I don’t think I would have been miserable living in an apartment with a small garden instead of a three story high colonial style home sitting on a half of acre of land in one of the most expensive areas of Montgomery County, Maryland. I would not have suffered terribly if my mother bought less expensive cheeses because the fancy ones cost too much. However, despite the high standard of living my parents provided me with, I really regret that I did not go to a Jewish school from age 5 to 18 and had to suffer anti-semitism as a member of a minority group because I wasn’t living in Israel.

The Jewish people have gathered in Israel in order to rebuild our country that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE after suffering in a horrific Diaspora for 2,000 years. We live in Israel in order to have a homeland for the Jewish people. If there are problems, such as prices of houses and groceries being too high, we should work to fix it together as a nation. Re-scattering the earth to live under other nations will only bring about other problems. It won’t help the situation.


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Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."
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