Holy ground

Senior Romi Gilat discusses being Jewish and its influence on her. Part of the package “To believe or not to believe” about religion’s impact in Allen.

Holy+ground

Divya Jagadeesh, Editor-in-chief

While United States is home to the second-largest Jewish population in the world — behind only Israel — only 0.6 percent of the people in Texas identify as Jewish. Senior Romi Gilat says that despite the small population, she has found a renewed sense of faith in her religion and culture.

Gilat says that she grew up around Judaism, and though she says she distanced herself from it after moving to Allen, she began to value her faith more, and become more involved in the local community.

“I know it’s not a very popular religion, but I was born in the Holy Land, and I was born in some place where I truly saw the value in Judaism,” Gilat said. “I really saw it in action, and over the last couple of years, it really made me treasure it a little bit more.”

Gilat says that being part of the small Jewish community in Allen has made her feel special, and helped influence how she views other mindsets.

“Because Judaism is so small that I had to be accepting, and I had to learn to accept other ways of thinking, because if not, it’s one against a million,” Gilat said.

Gilat says she loves the involvement of the culture, and the different events and holidays that are part of her religion. However, she also says it’s hard for her to fully follow the guidelines of her religion because of school and of other students.

“It’s hard to keep up with it, because you want to be accepted by everyone, and you want to be a part of the crowd,” Gilat said. “It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve really started being more involved in the Jewish community, because I realized how much I missed it and how much I value it.”

Gilat says she doesn’t think that Judaism will grow in Texas because of the state’s strong roots in Christianity, but she does want to keep practicing her religion and be part of the culture.

“I want to keep practicing and I want to keep some part of it because it is a piece of me,” Gilat said. “I grew up in Israel; I grew up as a Jew, and I know that within the law of Judaism, my children will be Jewish. I want to give them something, even if I’m not the best at it.”