by Jupiter Jaffe
Today started at 7:30am on the bus ride to Dallas, Texas, to visit the Sixth Floor Museum to learn about another topic that is monumental to America’s history: JFK’s assassination. Learning about JFK standing where he was murdered gave me, someone who wasn’t alive during his presidency, a chance to feel involved in my learning where I usually feel disconnected.
We also met with Andrew Smith of Pro-Life Texas, which was something I felt extremely connected to. Talking with Andrew was mind-opening for many of us who consider ourselves pro-choice, and also informational for everyone– I didn’t agree with most of what Andrew said. We also learned about the idea of spinning a story by watching “Thank You for Smoking” on the bus. Understanding bias in how we relay information helped me be a productive listener in our discussion. Our discussion was especially difficult for some of us in the context of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which makes the subject of abortion a raw topic.
After two draining activities today, we visited Temple Beth El Binah for Shabbat. Every so often, I’m reminded of my love for Judaism and my Jewish identity, which is a part of the reason I joined this trip. I haven’t been to synagogue in probably over a year, despite being observant of Shabbat at home, but walking into the service, I felt like I’d never left. Even though we all come from different places, Jewish summer camp unites us in teaching the same tunes and traditions, and so do our unique Jewish upbringings. And, as a Queer Jew from New York, it felt so important to me to experience a Queer, Jewish group in the South, just like me.
Today has taught me to keep an open mind and to feel okay not being fully confident in my knowledge of a subject, and it’s inspired me to keep an open mind free of judgement. I’m excited now to visit more synagogues and Jewish communities as well as to hear about more opinions and perspectives on relevant issues. More than anything, I’m glad to have this new connector between myself and everything that happens down south, where I’ve always written off as not my problem.