Zoe M. ’23 was the winner of the 2017 American Freedom Essay Contest in the “Middle School” category. She received a free field trip with The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia for her entire class yesterday, April 5. Read her winning essay below, and click to learn more about the award.

I am glad to live in a nation where I am free to practice my religion, Judaism. While just a year ago I might have answered differently, today freedom of religion is the most important part of the Constitution to me. We the people should be allowed to practice any religion we choose and not be threatened by people that may disagree with our religion.

Recently, I attended the High Holiday services at my synagogue. I was pleased that my fellow congregants and I could pray peacefully. I am fortunate that I live in a country where I am not restricted to practicing a specific religion. However, I noticed that there were security guards surrounding the sanctuary. This sight reminded me that I always have to remain vigilant and not forget about what might happen if the freedom of religion was not protected in the United States.

Not long ago, a group of neo-Nazis, people that have a hatred of Jews and other ethnic groups, marched and attacked a group of citizens in Charlottesville, Virginia (CNN). It is upsetting to think that although we should work together as a nation of diversity, some citizens are vicious to others that may not look like them or believe in something exactly as they do. This event allowed me to understand the fear that my ancestors once experienced. This attack evokes the memories of the countless stories I have heard regarding the Holocaust. I do not want to live in a country in which I am scared of being tortured because I am Jewish.

While the freedom of religion protects all faiths, we need to remain attentive when we hear of the hate of certain religions and races, for we know, united we stand, divided we fall (Silas Deane).

Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.  Photo courtesy of The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia.