Broadening Representation of Jewish Life One Story at a Time

Published May 01, 2023

When I was in sixth grade, my Sun­day school teacher had our class draw tal­ly marks, fill­ing sheets of paper. We cov­ered the walls of our class­room with these pages. This was an exer­cise in empa­thy and designed to illus­trate just how many Jews were mur­dered dur­ing the Holo­caust. At twelve, I did not under­stand the con­cept of six mil­lion. But what I did under­stand was my con­nec­tion to each tal­ly mark.

How­ev­er, I knew lit­tle about my Sephardic roots, grow­ing up in a reform Ashke­naz­ic com­mu­ni­ty in New Orleans. We drove on the Sab­bath and ate food that was not kosher. But when I was six­teen, my fam­i­ly moved back to our ortho­dox Syr­i­an Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in Brook­lyn and, overnight, every­thing I had known changed.

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