I Didn’t Know I Was a Dirty Jew Until Someone Told Me. ~ Sherri Rosen

Via elephant journal
on Jul 30, 2012
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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.comwww.GateKeepersPost.comwww.Triiibes.com, www.Examiner.com and www.TheGoodMenProject.com.

Editor: Anne Clendening

Video: David Treder


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7 Responses to “I Didn’t Know I Was a Dirty Jew Until Someone Told Me. ~ Sherri Rosen”

  1. Shalom says:

    My father had a similar experience, one of the few Jews in his school. He bares the scar of a knife fight from an anti-semite's vicious attack. However, he chose to investigate his heritage, learn about his faith, and grow in his spirituality. I'm not sure I understand your article. Instead of investigating your faith and discovering the beauty of Judaism, you…became a Buddhist? Is that your solution for dealing with anti-semitism? To run away from your Judaism? You can hide behind Buddhism and yoga and your "interfaith" stuff, but at the end of the day, you're a Jew, and you'll always be a Jew, and anti-semites will still be there. When you're ready to learn about your faith, history, culture, people – they'll be waiting for you, with open arms! Take a walk down Broadway – your options for synagogues and centers of Judaism are limitless! I'm a proud yogi – and a Jew. I keep Shabbat, kosher, go to synagogue – and teach yoga. I live my life as a PROUD Jew – and that's how I deal with anti-semitism, by showing the world how beautiful Judaism can be…not by running from it!

  2. Shalom says:

    ps. Honestly, your article makes me sad – sad that your parents did nothing to educate you about who you are or what makes you special…and sad that this is your answer to anti-semitism. Be proud of your heritage and faith. My non-Jewish yoga teachers accommodate me in my practice and encourage my Jewish observance. I have tremendous respect for all faiths – but it seems to me you let David Spinney win, by choosing to leave Judaism instead of embracing it.

  3. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Shalom, yes, "embracing" is one way to go and "running away from it" is another. But are those really the only two possibilities? I can think of several others right off hand. Why do you limit Sherri to only those two?. In fact, there is a huge variety in human personalities and therefore a huge variety in how people incorporate their ethnic/cultural/religious or any other kind of background. Running away is NOT the only alternative to embracing.

  4. @Suri_k8 says:

    Shalom, It's not like jews have a special jew gene , jew just means you follow certain religious traditions. Just because one happens to have jew , muslim , or even atheist parents doesnt mean you have to be one too….. You are not born a jew just like you are not born a democrat.

  5. le says:

    How did they know you where / r a jew ?

  6. Sherri says:

    Shalom I have embraced it, but choose not going down a religious path

  7. Sherri says:

    Le they knew I was a Jew by my name. Nothing else, just my name.