i felt like an outcast

"I grew up attending trips to Israel sponsored by Jewish institutions such as my day school, my summer camp and my youth group. In general, on all of these trips, I learned that to love Israel was to defend it at all costs. As a child born in Israel to a Mizrachi family who experienced oppression by an Ashkenazi Israeli government, I felt a deep tension between what I knew to be true and what I was being taught. In the rare moments when I would try to reconcile this tension by challenging the notion of perfection ascribed to the State, I felt like an outcast. I felt deeply misunderstood and shamed by the same Jewish community that I called home. The same community that gave me my love for singing. The same community that taught me what it meant to live a life of service. The same community that showered me with love throughout so many milestones in my life. This disconnect left me feeling deeply confused, and as I grew up I started to feel like I could no longer be part of this community and find room for exploration around questions of my Mizrachi identity and around my complicity in an Occupation that destroys the lives of millions of Palestinians. And so I choose, for the most part, to leave this community in search of something different. I still dream of going back to my high school, attending my USY reunions, but know I cannot do this until this community that I used to call home starts to make space for important conversations that I could never have while I was a part of it. " -Michal David, Camp Ramah in California, USY Chapter President, USY Pilgrimage, March of the Living