Layah Shagalow
3 min readOct 11, 2023

These are the words I will never say. Because if I’m being honest, I’m scared. Scared to tell my truth. Scared to lose the respect of people I want to like. Scared to find out that I don’t actually like them. And scared for my safety.

I don’t know when Jews lost their seat at the table. When the oppression of our people stopped being true or relevant or real. I don’t know if it was always like this, given the way history has repeated itself time and time over. Or if it’s new to the world I live in now. Maybe it’s always been this way. Maybe that’s how the whole world could turn a blind eye to 11 million individual murders in the last 90 some years.

However it’s been, it’s still unbearable. My Judaism has raised me to employ compassion in all areas of my life. My faith in Gd directs me to recognize the strength and ability in every human. To empower them to believe in their right to live a meaningful life. I was raised to stand behind those who need assistance. I was raised to share my voice with those not being heard. I was raised to see a world that could be so much better if we all stand together.

So I do. While also knowing I am far from perfect. I’m affected by the systemic racism and classism and ableism and all the isms that exist. I am learning and unlearning and integrating all the time. I am constantly battling to stay true to myself and hold the truths of others even if they are different from mine. I am committed to this lifelong work because I believe in it. I want to make the world better for others. But I wonder who wants to make the world better for me.

Antisemitism is real. But it’s not sexy or exciting to fight against. It is so hard to sit at the table of justice and equity and know that while I will be there to support the others present, there will be no voices raised in support of me. The nuances are lost. When did we lose them? You call me a white European colonizer. But how far must a nation be exiled from their home until their return is classified as colonization? How light must our Middle Eastern skin become until others forget that the whiter it appears, the deeper and farther into exile from our home have been cast. Can no one see that the mark of whiteness that gives gentiles superiority, is the same mark that reveals our oppression. My whiteness as a Jew is the symbol of the endless distance from my home, the result of hundreds of years of exile and oppression. I am not white passing. I am white until. White until my limited privilege no longer suits you. White until your antisemitism rears it’s ugly head. White until you decide to join in a conversation that is a thousand years in the making, without educating yourself on a rich and complicated history. I am white until you discover I am a Jew. White until you decide I am not. White until my crusader eyes will never quite be the right shade of Aryan blue.

You may disregard my history. Disregard my pain. Disregard me. That is your unfortunate choice. But I will not do the same. I will not stop fighting for others just because they will not do the same in return. I will always fight for what is right, even if I must fight on my own. I will fight for a better world. Weary, exhausted and so very alone. And I will welcome anyone who chooses to stand beside me. Because there is room at this table for all of us. Because we all have a lot to learn and unlearn about one another. We all have preconceptions to detangle, to unravel. We all have a lot of love to show for one another.

Please do not write me out of the story. Please do not write me in as the villain. Please take time to learn and understand what you do not know. Please listen to these words that I will never say.