Family & Education

I worry about leaving school for university and being judged just because I am Jewish

In the last of our student columns on embracing life outside the "Jewish bubble", Alice, 14, reveals why she is concerned


My name is Alice. I am Jewish. I have non-Jewish friends and family, but Judaism is an intrinsic part of who I am.

So far, growing up as a Jew has been straightforward. I go to a Jewish school and I attend synagogue. But I have noticed all the controversy surrounding Israel and how Jews are sometimes viewed. And it has made me a little bit scared.

The recent rise in antisemitism has actually made me feel even more strongly that it is important to identify as both a Jew and a Zionist. But I have realised it may also limit what I can do in the future.

I have begun to consider further education. Oxford University is somewhere I always aspired to go. Then I read about the controversy surrounding Oxford Labour Club's harsh criticism of Israel and the harassment of Jewish students through the use of offensive terms such as "Zio".

I am not so sure this is somewhere I would feel safe. Do I really want to sign up to three years of discomfort because I am Jewish?

This is 2016. The fact that I have to consider my religion when applying to universities feels like an anachronism. But I am aware that, at many campuses, there could be students who are anti-Israel, and that I may need to hide my identity or risk confrontation.

Many of my friends feel the same way. Some are angry, others nervous about recent stories.

Despite living in our "Jewish bubble", we cannot be shielded from it all. At some point , we are going to have to face whatever is waiting for us on the other side.

When I hear about antisemitism in the news, I am never scared - just angry. People who my family know have expressed anti-Israel opinions. I have seen how this can trouble friendships.

Something that also concerns me is how antisemitism has moved from an extreme position to something that is almost acceptable, disguised as criticism of Israel.

Prejudice feels as if it is getting closer to my doorstep.

Throughout my life, I have been taught to think kindly of other faiths. I would hope that was enough to stop people judging me because I am Jewish, with connections to Israel. But I have to accept that this won't always be the case.

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