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I own a diamond so small that you have to look closely to distinguish it from its base. Surrounding the mineral is a thin line of gold forming the shape of a Jewish star. A gold chain holds the star and when you place it around your neck, you have to be careful that the diamond side faces forward.
I was fourteen years old when I found it wrapped up in tissue paper, awaiting my return from the synagogue. A small piece of paper had been ripped and folded to make a card which read: "Congratulations on your Bat-Mitzvah. Love, Dad." That is all my father had to say. He drove up from his Christian home to enter my Jewish world, leaving his new family of three to join his old family of four. He watched as I was accepted into the world of Jewish adults. I valued the necklace only because it was the first time in seven years my dad and mom came together without screaming or causing tears. Thus, it becomes a charm of good luck.
The necklace stayed clasped around my neck twenty-four hours a day and eventually traveled with me to Israel . I held it in my hands for a sense of protection as I flew out of San Francisco and held it once again as I landed on foreign ground. For six weeks, my thoughts kept returning to home and to the security of not worrying about daily acts of violence between two peoples fighting for one piece of land. When I mistakenly entered the Arab side of the Wailing Wall, it seemed as though my necklace grew large and those who looked in my direction saw only the small star that hung from my neck. My hand reached to hold it as I quickly left their place of reverence, squeezing the star so that it made indentations on my fingers. I only pressed harder until my feet led me back to the Jewish side of the white stones that make up the Wailing Wall. My necklace brought me strength and the harder I pressed my fingers against it, the more secure I felt.
While the shape of my star stayed the same, the shape of my life took off in many directions. I still wore my necklace, but always over my required uniform of the Papa Murphy's Pizza shirt and apron. Tomato paste and oil splattered onto the chain and occasionally onto the stone. One evening, an irritable old man came in near closing. As I took his order, I noticed that he too wore a Star of David. I started a conversation meant to last seconds that turned into ten minutes. We talked of voyages to Israel, Rabbis that made us question, and my distaste for parsley and salt at Passover Seders. I left work that night and walked in the cold air caressing my star with a sense of connection, a feeling of closeness to the people of my faith.
I cautiously placed my necklace around my neck as I once again boarded a plane to leave for Jonquiere, Quebec. For the following six weeks, I studied in a country where few people knew of the Jewish religion, and where those who looked at my necklace noticed it only for its beauty. Classmates in my courses knew of Judaism solely through stereotypes from television. For many, I was the first Jew they had met. I spoke less of my faith as a Jew, yet noticed its impact on me more. My necklace was my identity. I pulled it from underneath my shirt and placed it on the outside of my clothing, not caring if the diamond side faced forward.