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.


  1. Awe heck, I had all sorts of questions but now I don't want to be a fool. O.K., fine!
    (Y'all have a tree planting holiday? Who knew? How cool is dat!)

    1. No, it's okay, I try to expiate my bitternesses here. I don't want a thorn in my heart!!!!

      So ask any questions about Judaism. But my answers may differ from the head Rabbi's.

  2. Really?! So, as a Pagan i generally lump all of you Abrahamic religions together so i hope you will be patient with me if i get the dogmatic minutia mixed.
    Okay, here goes....
    When Leonard Nemoy, as Spock, used the Vulcan 'live long and prosper' mudra, was he using the ancient Cohenim blessing? If so, were any of y'all annoyed by this? Besides your dad, i think?

    1. Oh, no, my dad was thrilled. Enough so that I wasn't sure he hadn't made up the fact as he was my original source for it. Apparently it's true though, the Vulcan sign is adapted from a thumb to thumb two-handed version of the Kohanim.

      Were any of the 14 million jews annoyed by this. I haven't met any and certainly would not enjoy even the smallest part of doing so.

  3. Okay, moving right along....
    How do you feel about Madonna's picking up and putting down the Kabbalah? Did she treat it like a bourgeois trinket or was her study a valid chapter in the ongoing search that is her life? Please feel free to consider her pop star stature. Crass? Sincere? Both?

    1. You almost tricked me into answering this one seriously.

      The other day I walked into the breakroom at the library and gave a long extemporaneous speech on some tiny bit of nonsense that cancelled itself out. "Man," I cried out, suddenly realizing. "It is exhausting having all these opinions!"

      Anyway, Madonna's name is actually "Madonna"! I mean, if the Catholics don't mind I don't see anyone else bothering to get bent out of shape.


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