/SPECIAL FOR THE AJT/
Sage Segal, a freshman at Indiana University, won First Place (and $500) in a Hillel sponsored essay contest titled: “What it Means to Me to Be Jewish.” The Atlanta Jewish Times has been given permission to feature her piece here:
What it Means to Me to Be Jewish
By Sage Segal
I am Jewish. I am my mother’s and father’s hands on my head as they bless me with peace, happiness, love, joy, safety, prosperity, good health, and harmony.
I am the sweet wine sipped slowly among loved ones on Friday nights.
I am my mother’s chicken and matzo ball soup, perfuming the air on the Sabbath eve. I am squishy challah dough, my tensions of the week kneaded away in my very own recipe. I am the meditative OM in chanting Shalom and the soft hum of Shhhhhmahhh (Sh’ma) as I close my eyes each night. I am the subtle strokes of my bow across the strings, summoning the angels in B’shem Hashem with the call of my violin. I am the enchanted sound of children’s laughter and singing at Shabbat Services. I am the heartbeat of the drum that swells, as I pray for the healing and safety of those I love. I am a bin filled with kippot, each one a head covering with its own unique design. I am the Eternal flame, glowing persistently throughout the generations.
I am the hushed whisper of the melodious Hashkiveinu, sung to G-d’s children as the sunsets.
I am the shiny Yad, a tour guide, like the tiny hand that points the way and keeps us from losing our place as we tread on this earth.
I am the knotted fringes, hanging from my father’s tallit, crafting intricate weaves as I ponder the rabbi’s sermon.
I am the warmth of the braided Havdallah candles, reflecting the unity that Shabbat brings forth.
I am the spices on Havdallah, making sweet the tasks of the week ahead.
I am the changing seasons, observed throughout the Hebrew calendar.
I am the Shofar blasting loudly, calling myself awake to each new blessed year.
I am a crisp apple, twirled in golden honey, as I dance in circles exalting G-d’s name.
I am the swaying of a people united in song.
I am the tangy citrus of the etrog, a heart filled with the perfect blend of sweet and sour supported by the spine of the lulav.
I am the mixed array of colors and textures depicted in the art of our history.
I am the mezuzah on our doorposts, representing G-d’s presence and Divinity.
I am the oil frying the latkes on Chanukah, bringing life to the Jewish kitchen, fueling energy and fire.
I am the platter of dried fruits on Tu B’Shvat, a compilation of colorful attributes.
I am the bitter herb on Passover, remembering the struggle of our ancestors.
I am homemade Mandel bread; a multitude of flavors, creating a balance that is pure bliss.
I am an every seed bagel and schmear from Bloomington Bagel Company, an iJew for life and not afraid to show it.
I am Falafel and Israeli Salad, flavors erupting and bursting with intensity.
I am a tiny grain of sand in my homeland and the cool rush of salty water from the Dead Sea that brushes against my toes as the sun hits my face.
I am the freshly layered soil of Israel, creating new life on earth and calling on the souls of loved ones who have passed.
I am Marva Chana. I am honored, blessed, and proud to be Jewish.