My name is Mirabai Rebecca Siegel, and my story is just as unique as my name.
I was born in New Delhi India in 1995. In 1996, I was adopted by a couple from the United States. My Dad is a Jewish Long Islander, and my Mom, an Italian catholic born and raised in Massachusetts. I moved to Connecticut first with my parents, then after a year and a half, my family moved me to New Hampshire where I lived until I left for college at 18 years old.
When I turned 23 and graduated college, I decided I wanted to explore my Jewish heritage a bit more. My family has never been very religious. We celebrate Hanukah and Christmas, Easter and Passover. I decided the right way for me to learn more about Judaism was to go on Birthright, a trip to Israel. This trip is funded by the Israeli government and generous donors. Although there are some requirements to go on birthright, I chose a trip that was mostly non religious, and explored the outdoors of Israel while weaving in the culture and history. This trip was powerful, exciting, fun, and motivating. It made me want to learn more, hear more points of view, and explore where my ancestors came from.
After birthright, I took time to explore my South Asian heritage. I had visited India when I was 10 years old but I wanted to know more now. I reached out to family friends to learn more about the culture, the people, the languages, and the religions of India. I learned how to wrap a sari, and cook some Indian food. I learned more about the work of the Prasad Project, an organization in India I have supported my whole life. It felt so inspiring to learn about where I came from, and see where my mannerisms fit in with this culture and where they differed.
So what are the biggest misconceptions about me? Everything. I’m a Jewish (not very religious), South Asian with an American accent with two white parents (who I love and am forever grateful to), who grew up eating pasta not Indian food, and who cannot handle spice. Everything about me is not as it may seem on the outside when you just look at me, and I’m proud of that. I would not change a single detail of my story.