A Jewish, Latina Mother Challenges Xenophobia in the U.S.

“Go back to where you came from.” I was flabbergasted. These people don’t know me. Yet they feel emboldened to say such things to a complete stranger. 

The term “stranger” has significance in Jewish texts. It appears at least 36 times in Torah. “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress them, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

The emphasis placed upon this directive in Judaism was the most compelling reason I chose to become Jewish. As a Mexican growing up in Texas, I often felt like a stranger in my own country. As a result of my dark skin and Spanish language, I had a keen awareness of my “different-ness.” I was a stranger in a strange land.

We must begin the dialogue of understanding one another’s stories. Until then, the stranger will continue to be the stranger, the unnamed other whose humanity is lost.

Olga Lara on the Lilith Blog.