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Finding your place in an unfamiliar space: Sofia Aceto

TUES. | 12-21-21 | FEATURES

     Being in high school can be difficult, especially when something about you makes you feel different than your peers. 

     Sofia Aceto is a junior at Rose and is an Ashkenazi Jew, which means she is Jewish from Eastern Europe. Since most of her peers are not Jewish, there can be times when uncomfortable situations arise.  

     “My father’s whole family is Jewish and I was born Jewish; I wasn’t converted,” Aceto said. 

     In class last week, one of Aceto’s classmates suggested that they listen to Christmas music while they worked on their assignments. She spoke up and expressed that doing so would make her uncomfortable. 

     “I’ve never celebrated Christmas, and by asking the question, they just made the assumption that we are all Christmas celebrators here and everyone in the room was Christian,” Aceto said. “That made me deeply uncomfortable.”

     Aceto says that she is often put in uncomfortable situations at school regarding her religion and she thinks a big part of it is that other students do not fully understand the Jewish religion.

     “I think a lot of people don’t realize that being Jewish is just as much of a cultural thing as it is religious,” Aceto said. “A lot of Jewish communities, especially Ashkenazi, have a lot of different cultural norms and most people here aren’t used to them.”

     Some things that seem normal to Aceto may throw 

Sophia Aceto

Photo by Averi Simpson

others off, and this can be hurtful when people look at you like you are different. 

     “The majority of people in the South are very polite and always say yes ma’am and yes sir; we don’t really do that,” Aceto said. “We talk all over each other and put a very strong emphasis on questioning people.” 

Aceto mentions that she likes to spend time online talking to people and this issue has carried over into that as well.

     “In a lot of the online spaces I’ve been in, even progressive ones, I have noticed that there is a great amount of antisemitism,” Aceto said. 

     Antisemitism is prejudice against or hateful feelings toward Jewish people. 

She said that being Jewish comes with a lot of fear that she does not think other religions, especially christainity, understand. 

     “The synagogues are extremely crazy about security due to the sheer amount of violence towards Jewish people,” Aceto said. “We live in a small town so it's not quite as bad here, but you can't get any information about meetings or such unless you actually walk into the synagogue and ask.” 

     Aceto says it can sometimes be very annoying when people ask her questions about problems they hear on the news going on with Jews across the world. 

     “The only thing I really hate is when people ask me my opinion on issues in the world dealing with Jews and Israel,” Aceto said. “I wish people would stop accoateing one person or group with all Jews.” 

     Aceto has learned to accept and take pride in her religion rather than focusing on these uncomfortable feelings. She isn't afraid to speak up for herself and has become comfortable sharing her beliefs with other peers.  

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