My Middle School Experience

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Something weird was going on. The other kids looked at me and quirked their eyebrows. It was the first day of middle school. I didn’t know any of the other kids. After class, one of them came up to me and asked “Are you Jewish?” People used to ask me that all the time. After a definite “no” from me, they would follow with “Then why do you go to a Jewish school?” There is an underlying assumption you don’t go to Tehiyah if you weren’t Jewish. It makes sense, I suppose. At first, I didn’t think much of it. It’s nothing but harmless curiosity, I thought. I was what people called an “ABC”, an American-born Chinese. Both of my parents were immigrants from China. I didn’t have a drop of Jewish blood, nor did I look Jewish at all. Everyone else was Jewish; it was only natural to ask. But they didn’t stop. After two years, people still asked. I never had an answer for them. I began to ask myself: Why do I go here? Do I belong here? My middle school experience brings back mixed emotions. I loved it for the most part. Being in the Bay Area, no one cared what I looked like or where my parents came from. Still, I often felt lonely surrounded by my white Jewish classmates. One particular moment comes to mind: sixth-grade Judaic Studies class was ending. We had class in a prayer room called the Beth Midrash. Inside, multiple rows of pews faced the ark at the front where the school’s precious Torah laid. The room always smelled nice because it was right next to the school kitchen. You

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