In conjunction with Jewish American Heritage Month.
Meet Megan Miller, this is
As a fourth-generation Toledo Ohio Jewish woman, my family history has been a driving force for my commitment to my Jewish religion, my local community, and the formation of the State of Israel.
My maternal great-grandparents left Eastern Europe in the early 1900s to escape antisemitism and subscription to the Russian Army. My remaining relatives were sent to concentration camps in Germany and Poland – all were murdered. My paternal great-grandparents immigrated from Bacau, Romania.
Being Jewish for me is more of a matter of ancestry, culture, and values than of religious observance. I was raised in a traditional Jewish home. My family followed Jewish traditions and celebrated Jewish holidays. Of course, my Jewish education was supplemented by nine years of Sunday School and four years of Hebrew School to prepare me at the age of 13 for my Bat Mitzvah ceremony marking the time I was recognized as a Jewish adult. Throughout my adult life, I remained active in the community serving as a Sunday school teacher and youth advisor at my synagogue, Congregation B’nai Israel.
I wouldn’t be a “Jewish” mother if I didn’t brag about my two children, the fifth Jewish generation. It was important to me that my children had a similar traditional Jewish upbringing to ensure they carried on the commitments important to being Jewish. They were Bar/ Bat Mitzvah at the age of thirteen, attended Sunday School, and were active in Jewish youth programming throughout high school and college. I am most proud of the fact that each of them was provided the opportunity to visit the State of Israel through the generosity of the Greater Toledo Jewish Federation Foundation and two pillars in the Jewish community, the Steinberg and Kripke Families. Just a demonstration of the commitment that Jewish people have to their community.
As a member of the Toledo Jewish Community, I am embraced by an entire committee with the same region. Toledo’s Jewish community has decreased over the years from 10,000 to 2,500. Being part of this community for over 50 years, it disheartens me to witness the Toledo Jewish community decrease. The foundation of the Toledo Jewish community was created when our families immigrated here and established family businesses. Throughout the years, many of these businesses have closed their doors resulting in younger generations leaving Toledo for employment opportunities.
The connection that Jewish people have with each other resulting in a sense of family and community provides me a sense of belonging stemming from our familiar family experience during World War II. Modern antisemitism is just a repackaging of history resulting in rejecting Jewish integration into a society based on stereotypes and myths that target Jews as people, their religious practices and beliefs, and the Jewish State of Israel.
This month as we celebrate Jewish History Month, I am hopeful that we can join hands across faiths, races, and backgrounds to make clear that evil, hate, and antisemitism will not prevail. Working toward creating a more inclusive tomorrow, protecting the diversity that defines who we are with dignity at home and around the world.