Editor reflects on time spent living in conforming CA town

Sami Sparber, Editor in Chief

From the time I turned six until just before my twelfth birthday, my family and I lived in Valencia, California, an affluent neighborhood in Los Angeles County.

Growing up in Valencia was a completely different world, especially when it came to religion. Here, almost everyone I know is Jewish. There, I could count the number of Jewish families that I knew on one hand.

My school didn’t have off for the High Holy Days, and since I didn’t want to ruin my perfect attendance record, I went to class for half an hour until my parents came to pick me up for services. My teachers never wished me Happy Hanukkah or even Happy Holidays — but they always remembered to wish me Merry Christmas.

For six years, I played the part. I went Christmas caroling with my Girl Scout troop and said Grace at friends’ houses. For six years, I wondered what it would be like to go to CCD on Wednesdays with everyone else. For six years, there was a good chance that I wouldn’t have corrected you if you had asked me what my Easter plans were.

I know a girl who, three years ago, started telling people she was Christian just because it was easier than explaining to them what it means to be Jewish. That’s what a place like Valencia can do to a person. When you live somewhere where different is synonymous with bad, it’s easy to lose sight of who you are.

We’re lucky to live here. We’re lucky that we can do, say and practice what we want without wondering what the consequences will be. Not everyone is so fortunate.

The time I spent in Valencia has made me who I am. I stand up for what I believe in because I’ve seen what happens to those who don’t. I stay true to myself because I’m proud of where I come from and I have only the highest of hopes for where I’m going.
We all deserve to feel appreciated within our communities, and if you don’t, then I hope you find it in you to leave that place behind because trust me, Valencia looks a lot better in a rear-view mirror.