Being a teen in Chicago is something I cherish heavily. Being a Jewish teen, however, has made my life very different than the lives of many other teens in Chicago. I am a 10th grader at Intrinsic High School, where I began in the middle school program in 7th grade. I have been with most of the same students for the past four years, and yet, some of them still are unaware of my Judaism. Being Jewish in a school predominately occupied by Hispanic Christians is an experience that consists of countless questions, misunderstandings, and accidental insults. While Intrinsic does have a significant number of Jewish members on the teaching staff, I remain one of, if not the only, Jewish student.
This experience of spending so much time without Jewish peers has given me a unique outlook on what it means to be Jewish in the broader society. Previously, my experiences with Judaism were mostly within the Jewish community, whether it was at my synagogue or family members’ houses. Being in a situation where I am surrounded by those who do not have the same understanding of my culture has actually made me more interested and invested in Judaism. This past year specifically, I have been seeking out more Jewish experiences around the Chicagoland area. I have participated in more religious activities so that I have more to share with my peers at school. Since I am often the one answering questions about my Jewish religion and the culture, I want to make sure that I have interesting things to share with the people I am speaking with.
Being part of a community that allows me to partake in experiences like writing this blog post are just snippets of the amazing thing that is being a Jewish teen in Chicago, an idea I hope I can impress upon everyone who reads this.