D.N.A.

Normally I steer clear of discussions involving ethnicity, but I saw a video the other day that frustrated me and can keep my mouth shut no longer.  The whole point of talking about prejudice is promoting appreciation and respect for people from every corner of the world.  No one ethnicity is better than the others.  This world is so large and diverse and intriguing.  I constantly find myself searching the internet for hours learning about different countries.  Cultures are fascinating to me, especially those that make up my own heritage.  I’m proud of who God made me to be therefore I physically hurt when I see people ashamed of and unhappy with who they are.  I was watching a group of people take DNA tests on YouTube the other day, and one man was upset with his results.  He wasn’t upset in an explosive way, just disappointed.  His results showed that the majority of his ancestors came from different parts of Europe.  His exact words were “I’m just a… basically just a white guy.  I’m a little disappointed.  I thought I might be something cool.”  Of course he has the right to be disappointed, and it’s not like he flipped out or overreacted.  I don’t want to blame him directly because he didn’t do anything wrong, but I do want to make a point.  Europe consists of more than 40 countries and shares a land border with Asia.  It is anything but boring, and labeling European as “white” is a disservice.  Aside from my Sephardic heritage, I am European (as far as I know).  I am Jewish and Spanish on my mom’s side and English, Irish, and Scottish on my dad’s side; additionally, there is a possibility of Arab ancestry on my mom’s side and French on my dad’s side.  I have no problem identifying as Caucasian, but it isn’t a label I use often because my heritage deserves much more than a shallow adjective.  I encourage each and every one of you to dig beneath the surface and learn as much as you can about your heritage.  If you feel pressure to be ashamed and not care, don’t give in to the pettiness.  Set a good example by appreciating where you come from and respecting where others come from.  If your attitude and heart are in the right place, that is the best you can do.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Love Out Loud

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I am going to try very hard to get these words out without becoming overly emotional and rambling.  I apologize for the serious note of this post, but my heart is telling me to write.  Because of the picture, you already have a basic idea of what I am going to discuss.  I have watched quite a few Holocaust-related movies but am not sure why because it is very hard for me to do so.  I suppose that as a Jew I feel a strange sort of loyalty, a loyalty that urges me to watch and empathize to the best of my ability.  I did not experience a concentration camp nor did my Sephardic ancestors.  However, Jews are brothers and sisters no matter the category one belongs to (Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, or Sephardic); after all, we all descend from the same bloodline.  I cannot speak for other Jews, but I can speak for myself.  When another heart hurts, I hurt, no matter how far back in history that hurt occurred.  I have been emotionally disturbed by Holocaust movies in the past, but this film wrenched my heart to the point of illness.  As soon as the credits started to roll, I ran away from my computer and wept alone in another room.  My head throbbed, and my stomach was in knots.  I do not pretend to have felt pain anywhere near that of the Jews in concentration camps, but I did indeed feel pain.  Pain and anger.  I could not speak, only weep.  One word kept coming to mind over and over and over again: Why.  Why?  Why??  Why??!  Why!!!

– If you have not seen “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, I suggest you stop reading now. –

There is one specific element in this movie that grabbed my attention.  It is subtle but very much significant.  When Bruno is mistakenly taken with a group of Jews to the gas chamber, the Nazi soldiers do not question his presence.  Yes he is disguised, and yes he is surrounded by numerous other Jews, but take all that away.  Cut off Bruno’s hair.  Take away from Shmuel the dirty appearance and malnutrition.  Line them up side by side in matching “striped pajamas.”  They are two young boys, same age and same height.  Shmuel could be German.  Bruno could be Jewish.  Both could be one or the other.  It is unclear whether Bruno was visible to the soldiers, but he looked just like everybody else therefore he received the same treatment and tragic death.  He was one of them, a German, and yet the soldiers could not tell the difference.  What does that tell you about prejudice?  Hatred will show you what you want to see, not what is actually there.

If you think your contribution to the fight against prejudice as one person is too small, think again.  Love goes a long way no matter the number of contributors.  I will end with some lyrics from a song called “Let It Be Love” by Family Force 5.  I encourage you to read the words, click the following link to hear the entire song, and take time to reflect.

“Stronger than every fear
Comfort for all the tears
It’s where the war is won
And it has overcome
Louder than the loudest shout
Deeper than the deepest doubt
We’ll watch the walls fall down…

Let it be a heart wide open
Bigger than the words we’ve spoken
Let it be a heart for the broken
If we’re gonna light, light, light the way to You
Let it be love…
It’s love that lights the way”

“Let It Be Love” by Family Force 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZHl5cNLJE

Please don’t pick and choose who to love.  Love everyone!

– Lauren Michele :)

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Rosh Hashanah 2014

Rosh Hashanah 2014

Shalom readers!!  I will keep this post short and “sweet” (PUN INTENDED) in honor of the Jewish New Year celebration.  I am feeling very grateful today because my recovery from [wisdom teeth] surgery has been, for the most part, smooth sailing.  There have been moments of pain and discomfort, but the exchange was sleep and ice cream.  Do I really have cause to complain??  I may not be part of an elaborate Rosh Hashanah celebration, but I am celebrating in my heart.  I have one favor to ask: I am restricted from eating anything but soft foods for obvious reasons.  Will someone please eat challah and something made from apples for me??  Please & thank you.

In honor of my Sephardic ancestors, I leave you with this Ladino greeting: “Anyada Buena, para munchos anyos.”

“Have a good year for many years.”

L’shanah Tovah readers!!

– Lauren Michele :)

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