I went to Jewish school until I was thirteen years old. Jewish schools are…you know, surrounded by police officers and high walls for security reasons, so there is always this weird feeling you have – that you are constantly under threat. One of my early memories from school was that we had fire drills. I guess this constant tension and stress may be why I felt this need to work out intensively and eventually learn self defence. I absolutely loved it. It was intense but it also felt very empowering because whilst training nobody was ever scared to hit me nor cared that I was Jewish or a woman or young or whatever. We were all there to learn how to defend ourselves against danger.
I didn’t chose to be Jewish, or to be put in Jewish school, but this meant that I got to see from very early on – the amount of hate that can exist in this world. The fact that something can happen to me on the street because of who I am is something that never goes away and I don’t know if it ever will – but at least now I feel that I can just punch the person in the face and run. I can fight back.
(Alissa works as a policy officer, fighting anti-semitism at the EU level.)