Jews represent only 0.02% of the world’s population.
That’s approximately 16 million people.
It is easy to see just how disproportionate the hate and attacks we suffer as an ethnicity/religion/etc.
In fact, if we go by probabilities alone, it is more likely for someone to hear about “the Jews” than to meet one themselves.
I experienced this myself multiple times as a kid back in Venezuela.
“You all killed Christ!”
I was a seven-year-old boy playing baseball when I heard that for the first time. Another boy yelled that upon learning I was Jewish.
I left, crying.
On another occasion, I was playing at my building’s park with my neighbors. Someone pointed out I was Jewish, and my friend turned to me with a shocked expression.
“You are Jewish?!” he asked, his eyes widening.
I frowned. “Yes?”
He stood up and moved away as if I was going to infect him.
I was ten years old.
He was eight.
We never spoke again.
Ignorant and antisemitic insults are nothing new, and back there, it was justified by a lack of awareness and information.
But if there is one thing we’ve all learned in recent years, it is that more information doesn’t necessarily cure ignorance. On the contrary, it can even expand it further.
As I grew older, and my passion for storytelling grew, I began to notice something curious.
Jewish portrayal in books was mainly as victims.
This is historically accurate. Jewish people have been attacked throughout history.
However, I never saw a hero of a fantasy story being Jewish.
You might think, “Well, Abe, most characters we read about are secular. Religion isn’t immediately present.”
But see, Judaism is more than a religion. It’s a culture, an ethnicity. Jews are nothing more than a set of indigenous tribes that go back thousands of years.
You can be an atheist and be Jewish. The famous marranos from Inquisition times in Spain are a great example.
However, this is part of a larger conversation, so we’ll dive into that in a later post.
My point is, as a writer, I saw an opportunity to try and fight the ignorance, insults, and hate my people suffer on a daily basis.
I wanted to portray a strong Jew who overcomes adversities, gains powers, and shows a different side of our culture.
I couldn’t have asked for a better co-author in this regard. JP Rinfleisch IX pushed to go even further and lean on it as much as possible.
Depicting a Jew who practices her religion on the page, following Jewish values, while hunting demons using Kabbalah magic, has been one of the greatest honors I’ve had.
By creating Leah, JP and I are pushing the boundaries. A hero who struggles and makes mistakes. A teenager who goes through difficult paths while still dealing with the relatable struggles of growing into adulthood and beyond.
But above all, a human being that people can empathize with, understand, and love.
It might sound silly to some, but to have the opportunity to shine a different light on our people and show a Jewish hero my readers can relate to has been an extremely rewarding experience.
Our hope is that through Leah’s journey, we all remember that at the heart of every story, we share a common humanity.