I grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts. Went to public elementary school at Brickett School.
Looking back, at age seven I was color blind, and being Jewish I was in the minority.
My friends were Irish-Catholic, African-American, Armenian, Jewish, rich, poor and middle class.
One day leaving my school to walk home, David Spinney began chasing me, yelling “dirty Jew.” He threw food cans at me and would taunt me in the schoolyard daily. I was in fear of my life, and that’s when the shame set in on being Jewish. I truly did not know I was a dirty Jew until I was told I was.
Parents did nothing. I was always in fear. To this day I don’t know how I got through it all. The Anti-Semitism subsided for me after a few years, but I was a changed little girl. Many years later, it would rear its ugly head in a junior college where I went down south. Some of my friends had parents who were in the Klan. I remember walking into my dorm room one day and seeing a bloody bone dripping with blood hanging in my closet. Limburger cheese was melting under a light fixture smelling my entire room up. The dean called a meeting of the entire school saying how this must never happen again.
So ask me why I became a Buddhist, an Interfaith Minister, have friends and lovers from all cultures and live in Harlem. I no longer feel like a “dirty Jew.” It could have gone both ways for me. I could have become a raging racist, but somehow there was this spirit in me that knew life wasn’t about race, religion, money and all the labels we give one another.
It truly was liberating when I released the shame of the “dirty Jew” label.
I know what it’s like to feel different; I have embraced it and made it work for me.
Sherri Rosen is now living in Harlem, New York. She has had her own publicity business for 12 years giving a powerful voice to people who are doing good things in the world. She writes her own blog at www.SherriRosen.com, www.GateKeepersPost.com, www.Triiibes.com, www.Examiner.com and www.TheGoodMenProject.com.
Editor: Anne Clendening
Video: David Treder