My Jewish Journey does not start with me. It begins with my ancestors who left Spain during the Spanish Inquisition who wanted to practice Judaism safely. Instead of denouncing their culture and assimilating, my family fled Spain to preserve their Jewish identity. My relatives continue fleeing their various homelands in order to uphold their Jewish traditions.
The Jewish traditions that they worked so hard to maintain have been passed down from all those generations and countries to me. My Jewish Journey is the Journey of my ancestors. My part of the Journey is to continue their traditions and pass them along. I can not let go of these traditions that my relatives fought to maintain.
My part of the Journey is to continue to pass along these traditions and keep them alive. Even though life in 2020 is very different from life during the Spanish Inquisition, I need to uphold and pass along these traditions that my family has been living by.
While I think it is crucial to maintain my family’s history, which includes their traditions, it is also important I live my life how I want. I can not be restricted by the guidelines that my ancestors implemented for my family. As I previously mentioned, 2020 is very different from the Spanish Inquisition, thus some traditions may be no longer relevant or I may not be able to maintain them anymore. I have the ability to adapt these historic traditions into modern times and pass along these adaptations. My Jewish Journey does end with me either.
Lena is a senior at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School, where she plays volleyball and is editor of the yearbook. She has participated in several Springboard programs, most recently as a Peer Ambassador.