This photo originally shared on Instagram
I took this picture on a muggy evening in Toronto last July. We were wandering the Kensington Market area when we came across a synagogue in the distance. I took a quick picture of the architecture - I had never seen a Star of David perched atop a dome like this - and promptly forgot about it.
Fast-forward to now, and I realize I don't have many overtly Jewish-looking photos in my archives. I rarely bring my camera into synagogues, and I typically don't catalog the examples of Judaica that we have in our home. And if I'm not shooting it, I'm not writing or talking about it, either.
Which got me thinking about how I no longer tell the full story of my name when asked. It's a Hebrew name. It means "my vineyard", and it is my full, non-nickname name. For months, whenever someone new would ask me about my name and my background, I'd simply respond, "Canadian".
I had become so tired of delving into my Judaic background for the benefit of strangers, because I simply didn't want to get into it. Or I didn't trust their intentions. Or both.
Whatever the reason, I realize now that I've been buying into the game that xenophobes play. They revel in calling us out for our differences and simultaneously instilling so much fear in us that we don't dare stand out. They deliberately force us into hiding. It's the Nazi playbook from the 1930s, but let's not kid ourselves: This has been happening for thousands of years.
So I won't play the game. I'll shoot more pictures and tell more stories. And if anti-Semites take issue with Stars of David in their social media feeds, then they're welcome to share their opinion directly with me.
But the days of my keeping quiet for fear of poking the racist bear are over. I'm a Jew. Deal with it.
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