Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Least Jewish Jew

Most days, I don't think about being Jewish. When I was growing up, what it meant to me was occasional family dinners, during which the men recited prayers in Hebrew (which I didn't understand). It meant that there were a lot of rules in my grandparents' home that I often broke unintentionally, and then felt embarrassed. It meant being different in a way that I didn't really understand, and always being on the periphery of Christmas and other holidays.

Today, I still can't fully articulate what it means to me to be Jewish. I don't follow the religion. I'm not involved in the politics of Israel. I don't speak Hebrew or Yiddish, and I never went to any special Jewish school. I'm Jewish by default because my parents are.

I know that being Jewish means many different things to many different people, and that there are lots of Jews who are overwhelmingly positive about their identity and experiences. Within my own family there is every shade of Jew, from ultra-orthodox to... well, to me I guess. I'm the least Jewish Jew in my extended family. It really leaves me feeling like I don't fit in anywhere, neither with my supposed ethnic group, nor with any other group.

But hey, that's me. I'm just not a fitter-inner. So instead of making myself crazy with it, I just enjoy the best of both worlds. I love Christmas! Need someone to decorate your tree who's not totally jaded about it? Call me up! I also love Hanukah, however you chose to spell it. Want someone to sing the Hebrew Hanukah song while you light the candles? I don't know what the words mean, but I have all the syllables memorized, and I get it almost right. Heck, life's too short. Forget about having an identity crisis. I just want to celebrate ALL the holidays.

No comments: