What it’s like to be Jewish in Fuquay-Varina


I was born in Boca Raton, Florida. Boca is considered the ninth-largest Jewish population in the United States with almost 500,000 Jewish residents. Where I grew up, it was normal to go to your friend’s Bat Mitzvah or go to your neighbor’s local Shabbat dinner. 

During Christmas time, there were always Hanukkah cupcakes at the winter party at my elementary school and people said “Happy Holidays” to you. Learning to have to shut your mouth when someone says “Merry Christmas” and not correcting them was hard to do. 

When I moved to Fuquay-Varina, something I hated was how some of the other kids at school spoke about Jewish people and the Holocaust. It wasn’t something they had ever thought to care about. For a lot of them, I was the first Jewish person they had ever met, which was shocking to me.

Even after living in Fuquay Varina for almost four years, I still get equally as excited when I meet another Jewish person because there’s such a small population of us here. 

During my first weeks of living in Fuquay-Varina, my Mom and I thought we discovered the only Jewish thing in a ten-mile radius, which was Jewish Awareness Ministries in Angier. It turned out to be something called “Jews for Jesus” which is a term for Messianic Jewish people. Messianic Jews promote the idea that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God. The issue with that is that it isn’t what is taught in the Jewish faith.

Hanukkah time and pretty much any Jewish holiday are really hard to participate in because of the lack of food, decorations, and customary Jewish things at stores. The Food Lion and Harris Teeter aren’t just stocked with matzah, Shabbat candles, menorahs, dreidels, and whatnot. 

In Florida, there were multiple isles for Hanukkah decorations, and here, you are lucky to find an item or two. 

So you may be asking yourself, “What do Jewish people even do on Christmas?”

 It really just is plenty of Chinese food and going to the movies. However, many Jewish people do enjoy looking at the Christmas lights and listening to the radio stations playing Christmas music 24/7 as much as everyone. 

Long story short, we Jewish people may not get that “warm fuzzy feeling” that you get when you are decorating your tree, but we do appreciate it all and want the same thing for our holidays.