Shalom, all. I’m a grad student in the Deep South. With that being said, I tend to be the only Jewish person around and I’m constantly on edge in fear of violence or antisemitism.
Today, while sitting downtown, a man came up to my husband (non-religious) and I and asked if we go to church. I shared a quick glance to him and he quickly lied and said we did. And for some reason, I feel horrible about it.
I feel like I’m having to hide this important piece of me and I’m so ashamed of that. I’ve talked about wanting to be unapologetically Jewish, being authentic to myself and to everyone who’s came before me. But in this area, church and Christianity is SO important. You’re defined by whether you go or not and literally everyone knows what church you go to. I’m also terrified of violence being directed at me, or verbal insults being thrown. I’ve told my husband before that I’m afraid of being another statistic.
Now I’m sitting at home, feeling profoundly guilty and ashamed. I feel like a “bad” Jew. Like I’ve done something wrong. I feel like I’m lying about who I am and what I believe. I know that the safety of the person is more important than any mitzvah, but I feel like a fraud since I have no idea if this man would’ve hurt me or not. I don’t know what to do.