Embracing her heritage


Courtesy of Rachel Kramer

In the state of California, only 3 percent of the population classifies their religious affiliation as Jewish. While it may not be visible in your everyday experiences, the Jewish population has to face anti-semitism and discrimination. However, junior Rachel Kramer embraces her religion and history.

“Hanukkah is always fun, just having all the family together,” Kramer said. “We always go over to our friends’ house with two other families–we exchange gifts and light the Menorah. I used to, a lot of times, go over to my neighbors house for Shabat dinner every Friday night. That was really nice to reflect on the week and just hang out with friends and family with no technology, just eating good food.”

Although Kramer loves her religion and their traditions, she has to deal with being in a minority. Unfortunately, Kramer has had to face anti-semitism over the course of her life. In order to improve the treatment of Jewish people, Kramer asks one thing.

“Don’t do or say anti-semitic things or make Jew jokes to Jews or non-Jews,” Kramer said. “It really does impact Jews in the way that it just hits really close to home. It impacts Jews in a way that non-Jews would never really realize and can’t relate to. The world would just be a lot better place if people didn’t make anti-semitic comments.”

In many cases, anti-semitism can come from the lack of knowledge about the Jewish religion. By educating people about her culture, Kramer hopes to decrease anti-semitism.

“I would definitely say that there are a lot of people who don’t really know a lot about Jewish culture in general,” Kramer said. “I know that somebody didn’t know what Hanukkah was and I was like ‘It’s still a pretty big holiday even though not a lot of people are Jewish anymore.’ (Another thing is that) a lot of people don’t realize that a Jewish church is not a Jewish temple. It is not the same thing and I don’t think people realize that. A lot of that is just that people are uneducated about Jews and everything that has happened. A lot of people when they think of Jews, they think about the Holocaust and that’s pretty much it. There were other obstacles that Jews have gone through besides the Holocaust. If you meet a Jewish person and you have a question, ask it, as long as its not offensive. Jews are nice people, we are not going to get mad. If someone is asking you a question about Judaism, it shows that they have interest in your culture. In a lot of temples, you are able to go and sit through a service if you want to learn.”

Along with informing people about the Jewish religion and culture, Kramer has other ideas about making people aware of anti-semitism. One of these ideas came to life in the form of video.

“In my video, I have a couple people, actually one of them is not Jewish, but the people shared stories on when someone has been anti-semitic to them, what they think anti-semitism is, what they think people can do to stop it and what what their initial reaction was to the Pittsburgh shooting,” Kramer said.

Kramer’s actions have made not only an impact on her, but also her family, friends and Jewish community. Her mother, Cindy Kramer, expresses the respect and love she has for Kramer’s actions.

“I was really proud of [Rachel] for standing up and doing something,” Mrs. Kramer said. “It is really hard growing up in a community that doesn’t have many Jewish people, so putting herself out there like that can be scary.”