Don’t pass us over

by Michelle Nosratian

For as long as I can remember, I have celebrated the high holidays, spent Sabbath with my family, and attended Jewish day schools. However, since coming to Harvard-Westlake, I have lost touch with religion. I no longer count down the days leading up to Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, and have even lost some of my ability to read and write Hebrew.

For a secular school, Harvard-Westlake contains a disproportionately large Jewish population, so it came as a shock to me when during Passover, a holiday commemmorating the deliverance of ancient Hebrews from Egypt that is observed by abstaining from eating products containing leavened bread, the school provided nothing but unleavened bread called matza and matza-pizza. I didn’t exactly expect Passover-friendly lunches but I expected more from a school with so many Jewish pupils.

Historically a religiously affiliated school whose on-campus Episcopal chapel still is used for weekly services, Harvard-Westlake is now home to a variety of religions, with students harboring degrees of belief ranging from atheists to strict religious observants. Harvard-Westlake tends to skew towards being apathetic towards religion. Sure, there are religious clubs, but they are not very close knit and meetings are more about the free food than anything else. I received a wake-up call in the transition from religious to secular school, but that is nothing compared to the transition I will have to make when I go to college, where there will be fewer people like me.

For now, I am grateful that I am in a place where my religious and cultural practices are respected. It is not the responsibility of the school to cater to the different religions on campus, and students should accept that when they choose to come to Harvard-Westlake rather than a religious school. I have learned not to ask what Harvard-Westlake can do for me, but what diverse aspects of myself I can contribute to unique mix of people that make up our community.