2019 Biennial

On Contradictions and Hope

The past five months have been difficult, both at home and at work. There have been some really great moments and victories, but, honestly, this has been one of the toughest periods of depression that I’ve had in a long time. I’ve talked about how the Jews of Color work I do can be emotionally draining and, without getting too detailed, I am definitely feeling it right now.

I’m currently at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial conference, which has been amazing so far. However, this has also been a reminder of how few Jews of Color there are in both the professional staff and lay leadership, nevermind the fact that I am surrounded by a massive crowd of predominantly white Jews. The past two weeks have been especially raw and painful, so when I saw fellow JewV’Nation alums, I hugged them especially hard and nearly burst into tears each time. I spend so much time codeswitching at work and trying to figure out just how honest I can be without damaging my career and just seeing my beloved friends was emotional in that, for once, I could just simply be myself, no walls, no filters, no worry. That’s an all too rare occurence in my life right now.

I attended a session this morning called Antiracism: Doing the Work Within Our Own Communities. I invited some colleagues to go with me and I’m really happy that I reached out. Lately I’ve found myself wondering why I keep working in the Jewish communal field, why I stay in the Jewish community, why I am doing this important antiracism work when it is so draining and it feels like nothing has changed and the only thing it’s brought is so many tears. Hearing the speakers, all of whom I know personally, reminded me why this is so important. We are not doing this work for our own benefit, we are doing this for the JOCs who cannot speak out for whatever reason, for the ones who will follow us.

One of my colleagues came up to me after the session with tears in her eyes and said she is ready to support the JOC initiative however she can. She also mentioned that she follows this blog and had wanted to talk to me about the racism within the Jewish community, but also wanted to honor my request (which was made a couple of months ago in a previous post) to not bring it up because I was not ready to talk about it then. This short conversation brought back some hope because someone cared enough to really listen and honor my request. And that means the world to me, especially right now.

I’m glad I’m here at Biennial despite how emotionally raw I feel right now. I am co-leading a prayer service this afternoon and I’m just not really sure how I feel about that right now. I mean, I’m happy I was asked to participate and it’s been a great experience so far, but I also feel like all the tears I’ve been forcing back will finally break through.

So, let’s see how this goes.

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