Leave It At The Door

By Sophia Ballin, HDUK

"Leave it at the door,
You can't bring that in here.
It'll leave stains all over the floor and fill the room with a smell.
It'll take hours to get rid of it."

"Do you have to bring that in here?
I don’t mean to offend you,
Its just, I'm not sure it fits with the vibe and aesthetic.
No, of course I don’t want you to leave!
Just don't bring that with you."

You can try to sneak it in,
To hope no one will notice it with you.
To hope no one draws attention to it if they do.
You might even get away with it,
If your lucky, it can slip in and out of places with you, 
In Cognito,
Someone could be staring right at it yet it would be so well camouflaged that they don’t even realise.
Pick when to remove its veil, if you ever do, if you ever can.
Dilute it, mask it, distort it, change it, hide it, take it off, make it change.

Does it offend you?
I'm sorry, I don't mean to make you uncomfortable.
That was never my intention.
I never had any intention.

I'm leaving you at the door,
I'm sorry, but I just can't bring you in here with me.
I know you can't understand this,
But its not safe for you or me.
No, I'm not ashamed of you, don’t say that! Please!
It just, there is no welcome mat rolled out for you.
Wait for me here.
I'll come back for you I promise.


I'm writing as a young Jewish woman. My Judaism is one of the biggest defining points of my identity. Yet I have always been conscious of it in any space I take up or enter. It is my elephant in the room. I am aware that if I wasn't so assimilated and white-passing, it would be the first thing people see when they look at me. People will make judgments about me based on it, will judge me for it, reduce me to it. To some, I am 'the Jew'. Nothing more to it. That is what I am.

So now I have realised that I ask myself a question when I leave my house and when I go somewhere. I ask myself, 'am I bringing my Judaism with me?' as if I have the choice. I assess the space and see, is this safe for my Judaism, is it welcome here, tolerated here, accepted here? Can I take it off, and hang it up in the closet, choose to wear something different today and who knows, maybe it will be an outfit for tomorrow. When I take off my Star of David and my Chai, do I feel weaker? Different? Diluted? When I choose to hide my identity in my stride, in my speech, in my contribution to conversations, I leave my Judaism at the door. I part with it, momentarily, and guilty as I feel, I look back at it, checking that it is there waiting for me, and hasn't abandoned me out of anger or disappointment. I ask it to wait. I try to rationalise with it. It is loyal and it does so. But when I leave it at the door, waiting in purgatory, status pending, do I really walk on without it?