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Reprinted with permission from The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
July 14, 2006
My name is Rachel, and I am a Jewish American girl who was born in China. I was adopted. I am finishing the fifth grade, and I go to a Jewish school where I am not the only Chinese girl--there is one other girl from China named Willow, who is in the fourth grade. We are friends.
Sometimes I do not want to be different from the other kids, although people at school do not make me feel different because I am Chinese. And anyway, I think to myself everybody in the whole school is different in their own special way. I think I am also different because I am very outgoing and active. All of my friends have great qualities.
I love all of the Jewish holidays that my school has taught me about. I like the Purim shpiel because it is funny and a great way to learn about Megilah Esther. On Tu B'Shevat, my school takes a long walk up to Runyon Canyon and interacts with nature. My favorite holiday that my school celebrates is Lag B'Omer, when we go to the park and are teamed up with our whole class. We play games and have fun. We also have a jogathon to raise money for the school. I do not think of myself when I'm having fun as being Chinese or different, just as equal to everyone.
At camp a lot of people ask if I am Chinese. Then I tell them I am adopted, and that I was born in China. Sometimes they offend me with the way they look at me after I tell them that I am from China. They look as if they have never seen a Chinese person before. It can get kind of annoying telling your background to a lot of people. I am also proud when I do tell them my background, because you should always be proud of what you are.
Every week at school, we have services on Monday and Friday. At the end of this year, I helped lead services in front of the upper grades in my school. I felt really good when I was leading prayers in front of everybody, because it meant a lot to help the congregation start a prayer. I try not to get distracted during services because sometimes my friends do not want to pray to God, so they start to talk. I always try to sing my best, with respect and meaning.
I am having my bat mitzvah in about two years. I am very excited because this way I can have a better connection to God. I know it will take work, but the work will pay off. I cannot wait to show on the bimah how proud I am to be a Jew. In first grade I went to a mikvah with my mom. My dad is preparing to convert, so my whole immediate family will be Jewish. Still, right now my family considers ourselves all Jewish. I am a Jewish American girl from China ready to take on the Jewish world.