Friday, June 9, 2017
Ok, yes I am Jewish
It is a historical fact that I have been forced to face in the course of writing this blog that many readers come and go. Through some freakish, bizarre accident of the Internet some reader may stumble upon one of my posts and have the lightning strike. "My god!" They cry out. "This is fantastic. This is the writer of my heart who I have been searching for all my life. The writer who expresses my humanity, understanding, enlightenment, and graciousness of vision. I am made better and more whole by this genius. His shining wisdom inspires me! I shall subscribe and read his every blog post forever and ever!"
And then the next day they read my post and say "Oh! I didn't realize he's Jewish! Unsubscribe! Yuck!"
Or something like that.
Oh, you didn't realize I was Jewish either? Well, not theologically, or religiously. More mechanically. More like if someone says something about Jews my ears start twitching.
Also I feel faintly chosen.
Also anytime my co-workers have an idle question about Judaism I am the go to person because this is Minnesota and they don't know anyone else who's Jewish.
"Isn't there some kind of Jewish Holiday going on right about now?" They ask me, thinking that they're pretty sure I'm Jewish because I seem faintly chosen.
"You got me." I reply. "I'm an apostate."
"It had something to do with people planting trees." They say unperturbed by my fancy words I only barely understand.
But this sparks something in my brain. "Oh, it must be Tu BiShvat. The New Year of the trees." I say, though I'm not sure if I've ever celebrated the day before. Maybe once on Kibbutz Yahel, in 1982. So I know almost nothing. But I like being able to answer questions. So since I won't be able to answer anymore on the subject I hope they don't ask them. But they always do.
"That sounds interesting." They say brightly. "How do you celebrate this..."
"Tu BiShvat..." I say, instructively pronouncing clearly.
They nod. "How do you celebrate this TuShibav?"
"Well, um, I think there's tree planting, and maybe we eat dried fruit?" I am stretching out so far to the very limits of my knowledge that I think I might hurt something.
But what I say is never enough!
If only people quizzed me like this about the Barcelona Futbol Club!
"So would your family come together and celebrate this when you were a kid? Do you go to, what's the word..."
"Yes. Did you go celebrate this with praying in a Temple?" They ask hungrily.
But the strain of ignorance is too much for me, mostly my own. I have had enough. "A nar ken fregen mer frages in a sho vi a kluger ken entferen in a yor!"* I cry out.
To my surprise the face of the person I'm talking to turns white. They seem to collect themselves, and in a dignified, soulful tone they reply "Der tsoren iz in hartsen a doren."**
Oy. Who knew they spoke Yiddish!
*A fool can ask more questions in an hour than a wise man can answer in a year!
**Anger is like a thorn in the heart.