The Privileges Judaism Brings

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The Prowler.

Something that many of us have the luxury of possessing, and what others of us yearn for, is privilege. Privilege is something that finds a home in our lives whether we ask for it or not, and it is imperative that we recognize our privilege in order to grow as a society. I’m sure many of you might be thinking, “I am not privileged – I only have an iPhone 7!” Or, “I am not privileged, I got a 10 year old car for my first car!” However, not being able to distinguish an inconvenience from a privilege you possess in itself shows the oblivion you are privileged enough to have. 

Although the saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ does hold some amount of truth, in a time where communities and people across the world need our help, ignorance is a privilege that we cannot let ourselves succumb to. It is essential that we objectively look within ourselves to recognize our privileges and make ourselves aware that others may not experience these same inherent advantages. So I challenge you to a question–what privileges do you feel that you have?

An aspect of my identity that I feel much of my privilege stems from is Judaism. Judaism has always been an important aspect of my life, and as I have gotten older, my appreciation for my faith has dramatically increased. Not only do I feel privileged to be a part of the community Judaism has provided for me, but I am also lucky to share a common code of morals with my peers, family, and members of our community.

 When I take a moment to bask in my gratitude for my religion, I think of my non-Jewish friend, at a non-Jewish school, and I think of the indescribable feeling of my first day at de Toledo. I was able to walk into a new environment where I instantly had at least one thing in common with everyone. This exemplifies one of the privileges Judaism brings–the idea that we are never alone, and the inherent bond we all have with one another. I think about how my friend misses out on one of the highlights of my week, our T’fillah service, and I think about the subtle privileges Judaism brings, like the sweet Israeli chocolate and the soft and airy Challah we have the privilege to consume. And in these moments when I not only notice the impact of Judaism in my everyday life, but I compare my life to that of my non-Jewish friend, I think of the emptiness my life would have without Judaism, an emptiness I am privileged to never have to know. 

As our society has progressed and has urged our generation to push through the blanket of ignorance that has hindered our growth for so long, I think about how different it was for my parents to be raised as a Jew during the time they were children. Judaism as a whole wasn’t as accepted at that time, and there were few to no Jewish schools. Although we take it for granted, I am privileged to be a Jew in a time when Jews are flourishing like no other time in history, and where Judaism is more accepted than it has ever been. 

When comparing my Jewish youth to that of my parents’ generation, one particular story comes to mind. Growing up, my dad was friends with a young boy whose parents were so anti-Semitic that if he was playing with my dad in the street, and the boy saw his parents approaching, he would hide in the bushes to avoid being seen associating himself with a Jew. It is interesting how that extreme of an amount of anti-Semitism was just accepted, shrugged off as a personal difference. In present times, not only would that type of anti-Semitism not be welcomed, but those parents would be heavily scrutinized and publicly shamed for their beliefs. This idea further emphasizes the privilege we have to be Jews in 2020. Judaism brings so much to my life, and I recognize my fortune through not only looking inward, but through comparison. Although we are all privileged in our own way, addressing the privileges we have and comparing ourselves to those who are less fortunate is what will allow us to take another stride in our never-ending journey for a more accepting and aware future.