Being Jewish is joyful, inspirational, and fun. The things I love most about being Jewish are spending time with friends on Shabbat, eating meals with my family, and all of the many exciting holidays. I also enjoy being Jewish because there are many people who greet me warmly when I walk into synagogue. This makes me feel welcome. Even though I love my religion, it can sometimes be a barrier for me.

One way in which Judaism is a barrier is on Saturdays. This is called Shabbat. On Shabbat, I am not allowed to use any electronics, which means no driving. In bad weather, I have to walk to synagogue because we cannot drive. However, I get to wear my fanciest clothes, and it makes me feel special.

Everyone loves food, especially me, but being an observant Jew can sometimes make it difficult to eat the foods I would like. My family and I keep Kosher, which means we can only eat food with a special symbol on it. It is easy to find foods with the symbol, but my family holds with an even stricter custom called Chalav Yisrael. It is not always easy to find, especially when we visit our family in Vermont. We have to fill our trunk with more food than clothes! When my friends have certain candies, I cannot always join in on the eating. This sometimes makes me feel a little jealous, but I am committed to keeping my family's custom. The food is tempting, but I have courage and eat my own food (which is sometimes better)!

The last barrier I face is dressing modestly, which means I need to cover my knees, elbows, and legs at all times. This also means I cannot go swimming when boys are around in order to maintain my modesty. When it is hot, I can sometimes get sweaty with all of the clothes on, and I sometimes really wish I could just take them off! I complain to my mom that I wish I could wear many of the clothes I see in the stores, but I cannot. Through all the complaining and whining, I remember why I do it; because what is on the outside is not nearly as important as what is on the inside. Your inner beauty and soul should shine rather than just a pretty shirt.

Even though religion is my barrier, I am never going to try and break it. What I do try to break and overcome are all the little problems that sometimes get in the way of me focusing on what is truly important, being the best Jewish girl I can be. I am proud of being Jewish and proud of keeping my integrity even if something tempting is staring me in the face!