AT SOME some point you may have experienced some sort of discrimination; no matter what your gender, race, religion, partner preference or political beliefs. The important takeaway from that experience is how well you dealt with it and the lesson learned. I say, embrace who you are. With that attitude, your belief system will remain intact and you can rise above most discriminatory challenges. I speak from experience. I am proud to be of Jewish descent that stretches back generations upon generations to the eastern Europe.
On a return journey to Israel last month, I attended my 40th High School reunion at Sde Boker in the Negev. Upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport, I felt the comfort and safety of being Jewish. It is not a feeling easily described except to say there is a deep feeling of peace and connectedness that envelops you like an old friend’s hug. Throughout my visit across the land, that same feeling prevailed even when circumstances sometimes turned a bit ugly. I embrace being Jewish.
Unfortunately, there are many parts of the world that do not accept or understand, nor even know about, people of the Jewish faith. During certain holidays (Passover, Chanukah and the High Holidays, etc.) this can be a bit daunting. The key again is to embrace who you are. This can be achieved either by educating others, sharing traditions or even choosing to not engage. The essence of embracing who you are is a parallel of embracing who others are — it is a two-way street.
I say, embrace who others are. We live in a diverse world. In our small community of Squamish alone, there are countless cultures. These differences unite us! It provides us all with an opportunity to learn and experience beliefs and traditions we are unaccustomed to. We are very fortunate to live in a community where diversification is not only recognized but embraced. I encourage everyone to take part at least once in the many annual events held in this town to experience a taste of diversity.
With the influx of a growing population from across the globe, perhaps it is time to create an International Day here in Squamish. There are far too many nationalities and diverse people to provide a special day or event for each one. For some, there are only a handful of people representing their specific culture or country, but they too need to be embraced. Being Jewish, I am part of one of those categories. Our town is making headlines on the map of the world in a variety of categories: Best place to live, best place to travel, best trails, our people are among the healthiest in eating habits, exercise and overall wellbeing. Kudos! We are embracing ourselves, but now it is time to set a new precedent and embrace others more from within our community.
I would like to experience that feeling of peace and connectedness that envelops you like an old friend’s hug just walking around my town being Jewish. Given an opportunity to share the Jewish traditions and customs, especially around the winter holidays, people will have a better understanding and appreciation for the other side. My Jewish roots have taught me to love others as I love myself, and that all beings are entitled to freedom and peace. If I were not compassionate in today’s suffering world, I would not have the resilience to rise above the strife. I embrace who I am, and I embrace others. This belief system has given me strength and peace.