My "F" Necklace: From Generation to Generation

Collage by Judy Goldstein.

Sunlight streaming through the windows, Maisie Peters’ songs blasting from my phone, I get ready for the first day of Rosh Hashanah synagogue services. I study myself in the mirror as I fasten the necklace that I wear every Rosh Hashanah, picturing my younger self going through the same motions year after year. My necklace used to be my great-grandmother Florence’s, from whom I got the first initial of my name.  

The necklace is simple, but aren’t the best things? A thin gold chain with a script “F” pendant, I fondly call it the “F necklace.” Every year I wear the necklace for Jewish holidays and celebrations, this one piece of jewelry staying constant as I grow up. And so, as I get ready for Rosh Hashanah, I can picture all those little mes, standing next to me as they, too, prepare to go to services. 

I’ve made countless joyful Jewish memories while wearing “the F necklace.” Rosh Hashanah dinners with family, all of us crowding around the table and excited to ring in the new year. Passover seders where we settle in for a long night, knowing that there’s a delicious meal waiting for us at the end. Many b’nai mitzvot were celebrated while wearing this necklace, including my own. Putting on the “F necklace” is a way of preparing myself for the celebration to come. 

All of the comfort, joy, and encouragement that I have experienced while wearing the "F necklace" encapsulates my experience being Jewish. To me, being Jewish means that I am lucky to have traditions that value family and making the world a better place. As someone who loves routines, I look forward to each holiday and the aspects of my life I know will come with it: cider donuts and Rosh Hashanah, falling snow and Hanukkah, spring fever and Pesach.  

This rhythm isn’t just seasonal, but also generational. I often overlook how lucky I am that this necklace was passed down to me. My great-aunt held on to it after my great-grandmother died and then gave it to me when I was born. When I wear my necklace, I feel connected to my great-grandmother, despite having never met her.  

This is not a new phenomenon. Women have been passing down traditions, teachings, and spaces of advocacy for centuries. Rosh Chodesh is a great example of that: passed down throughout the centuries, the holiday has evolved into a time for activism and reflection, providing a safe place for women and gender minorities to discuss topics important to them. 

Just like traditions surrounding Rosh Chodesh have changed over the years, feminism and what it means to be Jewish has shifted, too. The world that Gen Z is inheriting is drastically different from the world our parents grew up in, and we can only imagine the world that we will bestow onto our own children. But when I wear the “F necklace,” I feel empowered to take on that ever-changing and often scary world. I am supported by not only my great-grandmother but also centuries (millennia, even) of strong, intelligent, independent Jewish women.  

This is similar to how I feel as a feminist. When advocating for causes I believe in, educating myself on current events, and participating in feminist spaces, I feel so lucky that all of the incredible feminists before me paved the way. By speaking out against inequality and advocating for a better world, they created crucial change that is the bedrock of all of our work today. 

For years, my mom held on to the “F necklace,” safeguarding one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. When she gave me the “F necklace” to keep in my own jewelry box a few years ago, I was skeptical and felt unsure of my ability to keep this precious object safe. I was nervous about what would happen if I was left in charge of this heirloom. But, a few years later, I’ve been taking care of the necklace just fine – and developing my own voice as a feminist. The torch has been passed to me and my generation to continue the fight for justice and equality. It’s my turn to speak up as a Jewish feminist to make a change in the world. And I look forward to doing so, while wearing the “F necklace” proudly. 

This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.

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What a beautiful, touching story. And so movingly written!
It is comforting to know that our future is in such capable, caring hands.

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How to cite this page

Belasco, Frieda. "My "F" Necklace: From Generation to Generation." 8 November 2023. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 29, 2024) <http://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/my-f-necklace-generation-generation>.