When Hate Hits Home: This High School Student Says She Was Targeted For Being Jewish

Hana Epstein, a high school student living in Katonah, NY recently received something in her mailbox that wasn’t mail- but instead a painful reminder that hate is still alive in the world.

In the early morning hours of January 25, Hana’s father went out to get the mail out of the family’s mailbox. He realized their mezuzahs had fallen off near the front door.

Hana’s dad continued to the mailbox where he discovered a white object that he thought was some kind of food lid.

After further inspection, he suddenly realized what it really was; a white square covered in swastikas. The name “Hannah” is also written across the square, with the last h underlined twice with a blue pen. The connection suddenly became evident. 

“I was basically numb, I couldn’t really let it sink it just yet,” Hana Epstein said. “I’ve always heard of hate crimes being committed against Jews, but never in a million years did I think this would happen to me particularly.”

Hana lives in a neighborhood that is predominantly Jewish, so it was very unusual for something like this to happen.

“I had a wide array of emotions,” Hana’s mom Mara Gross Epstein said in a phone interview with RISE NEWS. “I was upset and angry and concerned for my daughter’s well-being. I was also amazed that this happened in Katonah, of all places.”

It took time for Hana to realize that there are hateful people in the world.

The entire episode created a sense of unease in the young student. She wasn’t able to sleep in her own house that night.

She looked around her room, looking at her Israeli flags and other tokens that reminded her of who she was. She said she could never understand why someone would do this to her just because she was part of a different religion.

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Hana was so upset she went to her cousin’s house and missed the next day of school.

Eventually Hana said that she realized there is a lesson to be taken away from this.

“I always have been as proud to be Jewish as I am,” Hana said. “I don’t hide the fact that I’m Jewish, Judaism means the world to me. Now, more than ever, it’s essential that I stand up for who I am.”

Hana wants to spread awareness about the terrible crimes committed by anti-semitic people all around the world.

She posted a picture on social media of her wearing a Tallit (a holy garment) on top of Masada in Israel; the caption was “I’ll always be proud to be Jewish.”

Hana Epstein is a high school student in New York state. Photo Credit: Submitted.

Hana Epstein wearing a tall it on top of Masada in Israel. Photo Credit: Submitted.

Starting in September, Hana will be spending a year abroad in Israel where she hopes to share her experience.

The family said that they have reported the incident to local police.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Submitted.

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About the Author
Erin Taylor Neuman was born in Miami and raised in West Palm Beach. She is currently attending school at The University of Alabama, majoring in Telecommunications and Film in the Electronic News Sequence with a minor in Theater. She has interned for iHeartMedia, Inc., WVUA TV and was a part of the WVUA Radio News cast. Erin lives by her dad's quote, "Never look back on your life and say, I should have done that."

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