The American Jewish story needs to include more non-Ashkenazi Jews like me

(JTA) — When I was in first grade, during my first few weeks of yeshiva in New Jersey, my teacher asked the class what we knew about Shabbat. I kept quiet, but my classmates had plenty of answers.

“We can’t cut paper with scissors,” one said.

“I’m not allowed to use glue,” a classmate behind me pointed out.

Another student raised their hand and gleefully shouted out, “Kibbeh and lachmagine!”

Our teacher laughed and responded, “Yes, we do eat kibbeh and lachmagine on Shabbat, that’s my favorite part!”

That was the moment I realized my fellow classmates, my teachers, my community, were just like me. They ate kibbeh, lachmagine, sambusak, ka’ak and every other food I thought would be considered weird or different. It was in that moment I realized the stark difference from the stories I heard from my mother about her own upbringing.

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