This week, I was relieved to have a day off from work and I was able to wear what I normally want to wear. I threw on my skinny jeans, a loose tank, tzitzit (made for women by Netzitzot), and then my shirt. As I walked out the door, I clipped on my Red Sox kippah and threw on my Star of David necklace. I felt great, I felt comfortable. I walked into the waiting room for a doctor's appointment, smiling. Today is a good day. I signed in and took a seat facing the wall and pulled out my iPhone to check on the latest facebook updates.

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My social media quest was interrupted by loud whispering coming from two rows behind me as a woman complained to her husband: about me. "Women do not wear a kippah! Women should not wear tzitzit! How dare she walk around wearing that? Someone should tell her! Really, someone needs to tell her!" Her husband grunted as raspy remark and that was the end of the conversation. 

Their conversation may have ended, but it goes on in my head. Every time I put on my kippah and my tzitzit, I think of that couple. At first, I was really angry. How dare they police my Jewish practices and identity? I thought of all the things I wanted to say to them in that moment but could not find the words. Then, I felt confused. When Jews around me take on new Jewish practices or mitzvot, I am really happy for them. I thank G-d that they have this new connection to Judaism and good thing in their life. Why would this couple wish me to stop doing something that made me feel like a better Jew? Why would they want my joy to be taken away? In my life where I have to struggle to find the joy, why would they wish mine away so easily? 

But now, I feel almost a sense of understanding. New practices can be scary. Seeing others doing something that you do not understand or is not something you practice can make you feel uncomfortable. I get that. But we cannot just stop dialogue or trying to understand when things get uncomfortable. Dear couple, I wish you would have approached this differently. I wish we could have had a discussion about my Jewish practices and about how they are important to me. I wish we could have discussed how you felt. I wish there had been dialogue. Maybe we both could have gotten something out of a conversation. I wish I could have shared my joy with you.

One of things I have always loved about Judaism is the safe spaces created intentionally for people to try new things, to take on new practices. In my community, even when they do not fully understand, there is an openness for discussion and for trying new things. Judaism grounds me, it makes me feel confident. I feel close to G-d through mitzvot and through doing Jewish things. My kippah and my tzitzit remind me of all that I hold dear. They remind me to be better, to do better. I am kinder, more open when I wear them. While I am not any less Jewish when I do not wear them at work, when I wear them, I feel whole.

Please be open to others' practices. Please be kind and supportive. 
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