Easter always falls on a Sunday, and Christmas conveniently occurs over Christmas Break every year, meaning neither ever conflicts with school. Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, meanwhile, are conveniently spaced ten days apart, ensuring that at least one always will.

This year, it was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, that fell on a Monday. At first, I’ll admit, I was mildly annoyed. I missed three classes and my best chunk of time to get ahead on homework. Instead, I spent the day in services, fasting and falling farther behind on work.

In high school, Yom Kippur either fell on a weekend, or we got the day off, so this was my first time observing Yom Kippur while the rest of my world went about the working week. And it was my first time celebrating away from my family.

As my econ buddies took notes for me in lecture, I attended services with a group of friends and then headed to the Slifka Center. A combination of old friends and new ones — nothing brings people together like whining about fasting — sat and compared the morning’s service to our experiences in our respective hometowns. We played ping pong and Catan and even considered a round of Jewish Apples to Apples™. I caught up with friends I had convinced myself I was too busy to see. And as the sun finally set, we broke our fasts with bagels and kugel and blintzes and my world was bliss.

All of it reminded me of how proud I feel to be a part of the Jewish community. 

And then I felt guilty again.

For as much as this group of people — both the ones literally present on that day and every member of the Yale Jewish community I’ve gotten to interact with — means to me, I don’t talk about my Jewish identity in public. I wrote a weekly column in this space last year, and very intentionally left my Jewish identity out of it. 

I remember sitting in bed last year and seeing multiple celebrities promote antisemitic beliefs on their social media and scrolling through the comments to see the same tropes echoed there by thousands or maybe millions of other strangers. And as I sat there filled with pain and anger, I wanted to write about it. But I didn’t. Because I was afraid. 

I was afraid of being perceived as sensitive or whiny. I was afraid that it might stir up controversy, either among people I was close with or with strangers reading the News. And, to be blunt, I was afraid of the physical dangers that come with being Jewish.

Both my hometown of Manhattan and Yale have very vibrant Jewish communities, and — compared to other countries, cities and towns — prominent antisemitism is relatively uncommon. And yet, there are a horrifying number of incidents in both places, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid of vocally declaring myself Jewish and proud of it.

As I sat in Yom Kippur services and took a moment of silence to reflect on my individual shortcomings from the past year, I couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of failure. I had hidden my Jewish identity, one which my parents and their parents and their parents’ parents and so on had all proudly passed down from generation to generation. It’s been a tough couple of millennia for us Jews, but that only makes me more appreciative of the Jewish identity I’m able to publicly and proudly embrace. 

Walking around on Monday, I felt this same acute sense of pride. I was dressed all spiffy in a button-down, blazer and (bright orange) tie, and when anyone asked why, I eagerly told them I was observing Yom Kippur. And it made me think. If I’m so proud to share my Judaism in my private life, why can’t I reflect that outwardly? If I was willing to attend a blowing of the shofar on Cross Campus, if I proudly share that I can’t do dinner on Friday night because I’ll be going to Shabbat dinner, why can’t I mention Judaism in an article? 

Yom Kippur asks us to look back at the past year and ahead to the next one. Where did we fall short? Where do we want to do better? To whom must we apologize? Whom must we forgive? I have lots of apologies I might not get to and a few grudges I still need to let go, but this one is easy. I’m not sure exactly to whom I’m apologizing, but I’m sorry I tried to hide the Jewish side of myself. I’m eager to enter 5784 correcting that.

Andrew Cramer is a former sports editor, women's basketball beat reporter, and WKND personal columnist at the YDN. He still writes for the WKND and Sports sections. He is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College and is majoring in Ethics, Politics & Economics.