It’s all love? What?- I can think of little more “Jewish” in my life, than my grandfather dancing around like Topol, singing If I were a rich man. I am, however, a women. 😉
Yesterday, I had a discussion so powerful it has driven to write about a subject I rarely write about, religion. Myself, I was raised in a Jewish home by Jewish Hippies. Their definition of religion was, loose, at best. As I got older, I began to lean more toward Paganism, after a brief stop in Christianity. My brother made a stop over to Orthodox Jew, to Rastafarianism, and now to general mountain man, his term,not mine. Let it be said, aside from the hubbs and my kids, my brother is absolutely one of my favorite people on the planet. There is little more special than a good bond with your siblings. I have some step siblings, who I sadly, didn’t see much of the time and therefore, do not have this bond with. In any case, Judaism, in our household, was more of a culture. If you are Hispanic, for instance, this is how I would describe my Judaism.
Regardless of the religion I ascribe to now (Because you gotta have faith…, for one), Judaism is a part of me. My family is also European. I am a first generation American. It’s difficult to explain, but the general view of Europeans in the world is quite different than the American one. I think most people could agree with that. In addition, my parents friends were gay, straight, Pagan, Jewish, Non-Denominational (I’m not sure if there were Christians there, they came when I met my ex-husband, but that’s a story for another day). In any case, anyone who is Jewish, I would imagine, has been accosted by someone who says, jokingly, confidently, “Hey I’m thinking of saving up to be Jewish.:wink, wink, nudge nudge.” Right, you’re hilarious!
In the Memphis Jewish Community Center, there used to be a huge Menorah (above) on the wall when you walked it. Underneath, it proudly proclaimed, Shalom Yall!! (Now, that’s amusing)
But I digress, a friend/co-worker of the hubbs was visiting the other night. He, like the hubbs, is a lapsed Catholic. Catholics, I like to say, are Jews with Jesus. Lots of genuflection, my mother likes to say. He asked me if there was a trial program, where he could try out Judaism. After being dumb-founded for a moment (Jews, you’re with me right), I said Jews don’t really go out and proselytize like Christians do. We are taught to grow up and question things, all things. It can often lead to questioning religion, questioning authority, questioning life, as long as you don’t question your mother. He said but what if I wanted to see if I liked it? I said well it doesn’t really work like that. I mean you can’t go to someone who is Chinese and say, hey I’d like to try that on. I wonder do all inherently privileged, squandered lives think this way? Don’t get me wrong, I’m Jewish Yuppie all the way, but my grandparents met in a world camp during the Holocaust. Many of their siblings didn’t make it, which means I almost wasn’t here, just because someone didn’t like something about me. It really concerns me when I see this culture of hate being perpetrated.There are things that many people who are not in a minority won’t ever have to deal with of course. I doubt many of you have been attacked because you were rooting for Tel Aviv at a basketball game, in the US.
If you would like to learn about a new religion, there is a right and a wrong way to do it. Please don’t think making a vaguely racist joke is okay, especially if we didn’t grow up together. Seriously. Ask me what do Jews believe? What is the process to become Jewish? It’s true, very few people convert to Judaism, unless they’re marrying someone Jewish who asks them to do so.
Maybe we should do more genuflecting too?
I know it’s tired and cliche. Jews can make fun of each other. You cannot. That’s Chutzpah (how I’ve always spelled it).
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