KFDC Contributor Emily Shares Thoughts on Antisemitism, “Otherness”, and Resources for Kids

Emily on her Birthright trip in Israel, the soldier referred to in the article on the far left


[Note: This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise.  When she sent me the draft and asked if I might want to share it here, I didn’t hesitate for a second after reading it to tell her, “Yes!” 

I’ve drafted a similar post in my head numerous times over the years, as antisemitic incidents have occurred in the world and in our communities, or when I’ve encountered it through casual jokes, “accidental” comments, and pro-Nazi graffiti etched into a bench at the park two blocks from my house.  While I’ve shared some thoughts on all of it through links, I’ve never put them all in one post.  But Emily does that beautifully here…and I can relate to much of her experience.  Maybe we all can in some way. 

She also shares some resources for discussing this topic with children, and something I’d like to add is the new(ish) Capital Jewish Museum is hosting a monthly story time with a session taking place tomorrow, October 12. Thank you for reading and feel free to share resources and more thoughts in the comments.]


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No words on my paper make a difference for a decades-old land battle and horrific terrorism in Israel. But maybe I can add a few meaningful ones to the discourse on modern-day antisemitism and feelings of “otherness” in the U.S.

As a Jewish kid growing up in Montgomery County, MD, I naively thought I was in a well-sized segment of the U.S. population. I never felt like an “other” except maybe around Christmas — though eight crazy nights of Hanukkah was more than consolation. My knowledge of antisemitism was around the Holocaust and the KKK in white robes — a barbaric thing of the past.

In college, my sheltered bubble burst. It started out innocently…

“You’re the first Jewish person I’ve ever known!” a small-town Pennsylvania friend exclaimed.

“Both of your parents are Jewish??” a sorority sister questioned.

And became more direct…

“No Blacks, No Jews” read a short-lived, handwritten sign on a fraternity dorm room.

Post-college, as a young woman in the corporate world, the comments I received were more mature, yet equally laden with antisemitism…

“How are so many Jewish people so successful (i.e. wealthy)?” probed a much older colleague.

One colleague enlightened me that according to his beliefs, “Jewish people do not go to heaven.”

On a Birthright trip to Israel at age 26, I began to wrap my head around my Jewish-ness as a secular (non-religious) person. Several Israeli soldiers accompanied my tour group as we traveled through the beautiful, embattled country. One of them, an 18-year-old girl half my size, wore fatigues and a cross-body weapon covering most of it. She was fulfilling her country’s service requirement, and she could have been me.

My ancestors fled Europe to the U.S. The young soldier’s ancestors fled Europe to Israel. Both of us were born Jewish, yet born into much different circumstances. Since that trip, I have never forgotten the notion of being born into privilege — or not.

My Jewish is your Irish (if only it were that simple). Today, my mixed-faith family enjoys Christmas and Hanukkah, Easter and Passover. We don’t practice a particular religion, we practice traditions (some stick, some don’t!). But we never forget where we came from.

I hope to teach my children about all religions, spirituality, the ecosystem, and our place in it. I will do my best to explain the value of religion towards community, connection, and purpose, and where it can go south—disconnection, bigotry, and war. When needed, we will discuss the subtleties of antisemitism, religious assumptions, and to never impart that feeling of “other” on others.

You likely want to do the same. Here are a few children’s books that may help:

Elle the Humanist

The Kids Book of World Religions

Annabelle & Aiden: OH MY GODS! A History of Belief 


Do you know of other resources to aid this discussion with kids? Tell us in the comments.


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6 Responses to KFDC Contributor Emily Shares Thoughts on Antisemitism, “Otherness”, and Resources for Kids

  1. This is such an important topic! Thank you so much for opening the conversation and sharing resources! I have written three books that share the world’s religious traditions with kids. They are the award-winning, We All Have Sacred Spaces, Embracing Peace: Stories from the World’s Faith Traditions, and the recently-released ABCs of the World’s Religions. I also wrote an article on the Religion Matters blog entitled “Teaching about Judaism and Antisemitism in the Classroom,” and an article for Multicultural Kid Blogs entitled “Talking Antisemitism with Kids: It’s Easier than You Might Think.” Check them out!

  2. That would be awesome! Let me know if you want me to send review copies of anything. Happy to do that!

  3. Deepa

    I really appreciate your content. And – it would be helpful to also include resources that touch upon the ways in which Palestinian, Muslim and Arab communities are affected as well during this heartbreaking time. We all live in the DMV together, after all, and war and conflict are never one-sided. Additionally, anti-Muslim bias is affecting children and families as well. It’s helpful to share messaging and resources to move through this time. Example: https://teachpalestine.org/articles/childrens-books-palestine/. Thank you.

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