/SPECIAL FOR THE AJT/

 

Sage Segal

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.