I’ve never been a synagogue goer. Leave it to my Soviet childhood, to my late introduction to Judaism to my Orthodox brother (he and his family are the only ones) or simply to the fact that formal group gatherings go against my introvert tendencies. But I’ve always taken it for granted that because I look a certain way, I would not stick out in a shul. In the same way I consider it given for myself, I don’t question why someone who may not look like me would be present in a shul. Would I notice? Probably. But would I ever make them feel unwelcome? Never. Shul is a place of safety, belonging, connection. And the fact that this Jewish woman was made to feel continuously like the other goes completely against what we Jews are supposed to be. Shame on Jew shamers. We are not exempt.

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