* I am an Orthodox Jewish male teenager. I'm 19 years old and have lived in sunny Woodland Hills my whole life. My parents did not come from an Orthodox Jewish upbringing and therefore were brought up in a New York City, non-Orthodox fashion. They moved to California after they got married and had me. By the time I was 4, they felt that being Orthodox Jews was the best way for them, not only to attain a higher spiritual connection, but also to raise a family based on those values.
As I grew as a child, I was introduced to many of my parents' friends, many of whom were Jewish and many of whom were Christian, Catholic and black. My parents never judged their friends any differently then they did before they became religious. I was raised to be faithful to my religion and to respect others for their beliefs. I have always attended Jewish private school, and continue to do so, at Yeshiva University [in New York].
I have now come to a crossroads in my life. People ask me what profession I want to pursue, as well as my aspirations in life. My response has always been, "I want to be the president of the United States of America." I have always said that with the utmost sincerity and seriousness. Unfortunately, after some chuckling, I always get: "A Jewish president . . . Ha! That will never happen."
Such a response can make one very discouraged, but I have always kept my head held high and believed that America is truly the land of freedom.
The words in the Constitution, "all men are created equal," are to me the most significant and powerful words from this great nation. And it is due to the hard work of our forefathers, all the way down to our generation, that these words are firmly upheld.
A few days ago, one of the most beautiful examples of those words took place. Not only a Jew, but an Orthodox Jew, by the name of Joseph I. Lieberman, was selected as a candidate for vice president.
When I heard these words, I shed a tear out of happiness and joy. I didn't react this way only because he is a Jew, but rather also because now the citizens of America have taken the ultimate step, to break the barrier between Jews and the rest of the nation. I, as an Orthodox Jew, can now be looked upon as an equal in society, even to the point of potentially leading the country. America truly personifies "all men are created equal."
Now the values that my parents have instilled in me--to not be judgmental of others--are being reciprocated to me. Because America now is open to a Jew taking a leading office, I feel that I too can become heavily involved and make this country as great as it can be.
Al Gore has to be commended for representing America in setting this beautiful example. It is only suitable that he be thanked in the most dignified fashion by the American public.
Now I know that the next time I tell someone, "I aspire to be the president of the United States of America," I no longer will be laughed at. Rather, I will accept a handshake of approval and a wish for good luck in my campaign.