Facing Stereotyping and Discrimination

Posted by Emily Weisberg on June 10, 2015

This week we feature a series of blog posts from the students and teachers involved in an exchange between two Los Angeles middle schools: Sinai Akiba Academy, a Jewish day school, and New Horizon School, a Muslim day school. In this post, we hear as students from both schools reflect on the week. In accordance with school privacy policies, students are identified only by initials.

When the students from New Horizon visited Sinai, and when we went to New Horizon, I realized just how much we have in common with the Muslim students my age. We both share the struggle of discrimination and freedom of religion while living in America.

Student-Picture-SA-Blog-240x300.jpegJews have struggled with persecution throughout history, from the Holocaust to the modern-day antisemitism we are seeing today around the world. Jews have always had to fight for their survival. And now, with current events, Muslims are facing similar challenges of intolerance, stereotyping, and a fear-based hatred of their entire culture. Radical Muslims and the ideology they preach do pose a serious threat to the world, but not every Muslim is a religious extremist. Meeting and spending time with the New Horizon students reinforced my understanding of this. It showed me first-hand the everyday aspects of life we have in common as kids, students, and members of a close-knit, traditional community. People in the Muslim community have different religious beliefs than us, but share and face many of the same challenges we do as Jews in the modern world.

- FG, Sinai Akiba Academy

Zainab-181x300.pngA personal enlightenment came for me when I shared some of the hardships that come along my way because I wear the hijab. One of the stories I shared was when a woman told me to
leave the city because they didn’t want any bombs. Although what she said shocked me, I kept my head held high and ignored her. The students and teachers in the room had shocked expressions on their faces as I described the woman’s actions towards me. They were genuinely surprised at what she did and could barely believe what they were hearing. After hearing this all the students in the room immediately started clapping. People told me I was their inspiration and I was so strong. Hearing those things from them warmed my heart and that was one of the best things that has happened to me.

In conclusion, I learned many things from the visit to Sinai Akiba. I learned about their food, celebrations, and their holy book. But, I learned something much more important that day. I learned that compassion and community can come from anywhere. To learn from people that I was their motivation was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget.

- MN, New Horizon School

Click here to read more about the choice of individuals to wear the hijab from the Facing History resource, Stories of Identity. A brief history of the veil in Islam can be found here.

Tomorrow, read final reflections from the teachers, Rebecca and Aysha, about these powerful exchange days.

Topics: Jewish Muslim student exchange, A View from the Classroom

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