Coming of Age Sad Teens & Young Adult

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I remember waking up, and thought it was a bad dream. I yelled for Ima, meaning mom in Hebrew.

 “My poor little baby.” She was sobbing. 

I was feeling upset, as Ima’s tears were dripping slowly onto my blue shirt. 

Slowly Ima was trying to say something, but it was hard for her to get the words completely out with all the tears and sadness she was feeling. 

Then, Ima took a breath, and stopped crying for a second and spoke, “my poor baby, we were forced to pack up and go to a prison, because we were Jewish, we weren’t allowed to stay together.”

I couldn’t believe it and I was terrified, I couldn’t imagine not being able to stay Jewish or speak my Hebrew language. I don’t want anyone to take that away from me, it’s not fair.

Nothing added up, and for the first time, I struggled with my identity. 

Ima suggested I try hiding in the closet that Aba bought me before he passed away. But, I was too anxious that an intruder would find me if I was hiding there. 

Ima was always there for me, I want to stay at home with her. I rather die than lose my language, my culture and my identity, it was the truth.

Ima was right, in a few minutes, we heard knocking from the intruders, and Ima already packed up my suitcase with the Star of David necklace I got when I was twelve years old for my bat mitzvah. 

Through the windows, they saw me and were trying to threaten me. 

“Young girl, if you don’t come with us, we will shoot your mom right in front of you.”

Three intruders were standing at my front door, trying to break the mezuzah, and pulled me away without saying my final goodbye to Ima. 

That’s when it hit me even more, while one of the intruders lifted me up to throw me onto the bus with other Jewish kids who were taken from their homes. Aba, my dad used to be the one always lifting me up to throw me in the pool when he was alive. 

2 hours later, all of us were far away from home in the middle of nowhere. Every Jewish kid was lining up in a straight line, and I was the last person in line anxious. We got our bags checked and anything related to our religion or culture taken away from us, and we were forced to be Christan. 

When it was my turn to go up, they took away everything that reminded me of my family. I got my Star of David necklace taken away, pictures of my family, my prayer book, letters to write Ima and even my notebook, and clothes that made me feel happy and safe.

I was told I didn’t need anything. We will be fed, and pray together, we don’t need or deserve a family to talk to and we are forced to wear gowns that have crosses on them for church practice. 

There I was, in the building needing to share a room with three other people, and it was tiny with no choice. 

5 days later…

It’s been days not being able to see Ima. I was starving myself not wanting to eat the porridge for every meal they were serving. Each day, I’ve been losing weight like crazy and it was getting to a point where I was really ill, and no one would call for help. As I was Jewish, they didn’t care and thought I needed the healthcare that Christians were receiving. 

It wasn’t fair at all, because I was Jewish– I wasn’t even allowed to call Ima and check in on her. For days, she has been trying to call me and no one let her speak to me. I felt destroyed, and I was questioning myself. 

As Ima would say who is a doctor, it’s important to get rest and drink lots. If I asked for meds, I was scared they would poison it or put something in the meds to kill me, as they want all the Jews dead. 

I made my bed nice and slowly, and felt as if I was going to faint. I closed my eyes and took a nap hoping that I would feel better in no time. Right, when I closed my eyes I got yelled at to wake up and clean the bathrooms. 

I was in a living nightmare. I couldn’t believe it. It was so unfair!

As a Jew, I couldn’t rest, speak my language and I’m forced to eat shit for every meal that’s not even cooked and clean? 

I get how there may be chores when you stay over at such a disgusting place, but this was way far and too much. 

Once again, I was threatened that if I don’t wake up and start cleaning, the intruders will be forced to kill me. Even worse, all of the intruders were against Jews. 

I forced myself to rise and hoped I wouldn’t get killed.

After mopping the floors of every washroom, I was forced to join everyone else down for one of the annual daily church practices. 

I got slapped and abused for not knowing any of the lyrics and refusing to pray in Hebrew as I was taught properly. 

Every day, I was feeling miserable and hopeless. I never wanted to forget my religion or beliefs of what I like about being Jewish and my love for speaking Hebrew.

I wanted to call Ima, and that was my wish more than anything, to just hear her speak would make my world.

That’s what I did. 

I didn’t care about the stupid rules anymore. For once, all the staff and kids were sleeping, I snuck their payphone with having five cents on me for a thirty-second phone call.

She picked up.

I needed that voice. 

“Ima, no matter what happens to me, I’m getting super ill, and I want you to know how poor I’m getting treated and I love you.”

She was sorry to hear about my suffering, and when she said “I love you” in Hebrew, I didn’t even know it was Hebrew.

Slowly, I started to forget my Hebrew and Ima. 

December 19, 2022 14:33

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Mary Lehnert
22:02 Dec 28, 2022

I want to hear more . Many understand only too well and grieve for this young girl’s story. Thankyou for writing this Ashley


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Delbert Griffith
15:45 Dec 24, 2022

This is a heartbreaking and relevant tale, Ashley. We need to know to what depths humans can sink to in the name of a preferred religion. This is certainly not what God intended for us, IMO. I personally think that we have just enough religion in the world to kill each other over the differences and not quite enough to love each other despite our differences. Your tale certainly resonated with me. Nicely done, Ashley.


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