I’m Not Much Of A Jew, But I Am Jew-ish

I’m Not Much Of A Jew, But I Am Jew-ish

Confessions of a Rosenblum.

I'm not a very religious Jew, but my last name is Rosenblum, so people give me the benefit of the doubt. In reality, I don’t do most of the things that Jews are supposed to do: go to Synagogue, keep Kosher, rest on the Sabbath. Instead, I just sit around all day fulfilling Jewish stereotypes. It doesn’t make for a very good college essay about cultural identity: Judaism is important to me because I have dark curly hair, I'm awkward, I can't play sports, and I outperform other Caucasian groups academically. When I word it as such, it seems like a pretty awful way to connect with my cultural heritage. Perhaps it is. I’m not going to defend my complicated relationship with Judaism, but I will try to explain how it came to be.

Strictly speaking, I’m Jewish because my mother is Jewish, and boy is she. Her religious affiliation on Facebook is listed as “Jewish mother,” as it’s a point of pride for her. I’m very glad I have a Jewish mother, though, because if I didn’t, how else would I know when I’m hungry? It’s not like my body has any sort of mechanism for determining this on its own. Or if it does, it’s always wrong. I’ll be sitting at the dinner table and my mother will say, “Julian, did you get enough to eat?” to which I’ll respond, “Yes, Mom, I’m full.” Then she’ll say “No, you’re too skinny. Go have another g’fh’hkh.”[1] And so I'll have another g’fh’hkh.

Other than that, my Jewish education growing up consisted of twenty-minute Passover Seders, receiving toy trucks for Hanukkah, and most importantly, attending public school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I knew I was a Jew the same way I knew that I was white or that I was American: it was told to me one day and I didn’t think twice about it. Most of my friends were Jewish too, or at least half-Jewish, which I assumed meant they only had to wear half a sweater when it was 70 degrees out.

What I didn’t know growing up in New York City is that Judaism is actually a very small religion. I distinctly remember the first time I saw a pie chart with the religions of the world and their sizes. There had to have been a mistake. There was no way that Judaism comprised only .2 percent of the world’s population — there were three Abraham Goldsteins in my kindergarten class and that sure as hell couldn’t have been all of them. And it wasn’t. There were a few more, but they must have all lived within a five-block radius of me for the numbers to work out. Apparently, I was a minority of sorts outside of New York. Judaism was actually something kind of special. Who knew? I put the fact in my back pocket and continued with my life as normal, watching "Seinfeld" on Yom Kippur [2] with a Shellfish Bacon Cheeseburger [3] and a side of irony.

When I got to a certain age, my parents sat me down and brought up the fact that Jewish boys such as myself typically have Bar Mitzvahs when they turn thirteen. They said they wouldn’t force me, but if I wanted one, I needed to decide soon so I could start making up for the Jewish education they had neglected to give me. I knew what a Bar Mitzvah was and I knew that all my friends were about to have them. To clarify, a Bar Mitzvah is a ceremony where a Jewish boy becomes a man and demonstrates the fruits of his cultural and biblical study by reading from the Torah. However, I do maintain that whoever came up with this idea hadn’t met very many thirteen-year-old Jewish boys, because the term “man” really doesn’t come to mind.

As an eleven-year-old, the prospect of becoming a man the Jewish way seemed like a lot of work. I would need to learn to read Hebrew and study stories about God. My relationship to God had always been a peculiar one. I knew that Jews believed in God and that my family and I were Jewish, but there were some issues with transitivity. My parents had never given me any indication that they actually believed in a traditional notion of God. God had less of an involvement in my Jewish experience than bagels and lox, so how was I supposed to talk about Him seriously in front of a bunch of people, let alone in a different language? But there was no escaping Judaism for me. It was not an option. Walking around Manhattan with that hair, that nose, and those bagels would cause people to assume that I knew a thing or two about God, and so I decided it was about time that I learned.

On the one hand, having a Bar Mitzvah and learning a bit of Jewish history made me realize how lucky I am that I can be a Jew so casually. Most Jews in most places for most of time were subjugated and had to fight to preserve their identity through the strict principles that I can mock so openly. They used faith in God to get through difficult times the likes of which I’ve never come close to experiencing. They had to fight back against the stereotypes that I can playfully embrace since I know they won’t pose real obstacles in my life.

On the other hand, I also kind of did it for the money, which I think is a pretty Jewish reason. I don't think my parents had any qualms about that. And we had the service in an Italian restaurant.

[1] Not a real Hebrew word. Pronounced with a large quantity of phlegm.

[2] Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday where one typically fasts for the purpose of atonement.

[3] A Shellfish Bacon Cheeseburger is a fictitious food item that breaks at least three rules about what Jews are supposed to eat.

Cover Image Credit: midtownlunch.com

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To The Person Who Cares Too Much About What Others Think

The only life that we need to model our own after is Jesus Christ.

College is a weird time in life. You find yourself eating at random times all throughout the day and night, if you’re like me sleep isn’t your highest priority and life never seems to slow down. You come home and crash on the couch only to wake up and remember that you have work to finish and turn in before your morning classes. Just because you can’t seem to catch a break doesn’t mean there aren’t the little joys to appreciate in college.

One morning I drove to campus for my morning class and as I was driving into a spot in the garage my foot slipped off of the brake and onto the gas causing me to jolt forward and slam into the barrier wall in the garage. I managed to take a small chunk out of the garage too. I was shocked and embarrassed that I had accidentally crashed into a parking garage.

My first reaction was to look around in a panicked fashion to see if anyone had witnessed my misfortune. To my surprise, there wasn’t anyone that seemed to witness my brief brain fart. After checking my truck and finding no damage from the wall I collected my things and dusted off my pride as I walked to class quickly.

As I look back on that moment I realize that the thing that I was most concerned with was whether or not someone saw me as I made a silly little mistake that could’ve happened to anybody. I was concerned about what others would think of me if I was caught making a mistake. This is something that I think that I fall into far too often.

It’s something that our society has created in all of us. We are all called to be as perfect and stainless as possible by the examples and standards that other human beings set. We have to realize that it is going to be impossible for us to live our lives without a mistake. You are going to make mistakes and that is okay.

The only life that we need to model our own after is Jesus Christ. God made him perfect so that we have a second chance. A chance to have the relationship that we don’t deserve with a creator that continues to love even when we turn our backs to him over and over again. Do not concern yourself with what other people will think of you when you make a mistake.

Pick yourself back up and make the most of the time that you have left in that situation. If God affords you the opportunity to redeem yourself and make it right, then do it with an eagerness and passion that can only come from the lord. God will continue to love you through any circumstance even when people don’t. Rest in the arms of God and you will never be let down as he continues to lift you in your times of need and guide you in your times of doubt.

Cover Image Credit: pexels.com

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Counting It All Joy

Getting lost in the thrill and excitement of what is to come can be an easy trap, but finding joy in everyday life is more rewarding than you can imagine.

Wake up. Shower. Brush your teeth. Throw on clothes. Chug coffee. Go to class/ work. Come home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Do you ever feel as though your life is simply a process and you are just going through the same motions every day? It is so easy to concentrate on the next exciting, thrilling function to come that we wish away our everyday lives. Not long ago, I came to the realization that to live life to the fullest here in this temporary, earthly life, we must find joy in the small things that God has created.

During Christmas Break, I had no fun, exciting plans until after Christmas. So for the first week, I spent the majority of my time watching Hallmark Christmas movies and focusing on how many days until the "good part" of the break came.

Christmas rolled around, then New Years, and finally it was time for the first major part of my break, Passion Conference in Atlanta. The three weeks leading up to it, I was so anxious to go that I didn't even enjoy fully my time at home with my family and friends.

While in Atlanta, although I loved every second and made great memories, I still wished the time away too quickly. After Passion, some friends and I had plans to go to a Katy Perry concert, so while I loved Passion, I didn't savor it as much as I should have because too much of my focus was on what was coming next: the Katy Perry concert along with a weekend in New Orleans.

When it was finally concert time, my friends and I were ecstatic because the long-awaited "big moment" of Christmas break had finally come. The concert did not disappoint, but I still found myself focusing on what was to come- an endless process of what ifs and what's next.

On the way to Passion, I started reading Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. My sorority's freshman bible study chair recommended it at the beginning of the semester, but I just found the time to read it.

Shauna talks about all of the small joys we overlook in life and why it is important to remember to savor every moment of good in this world because it is what God's intention for us is. I recently finished the book, and wow, I wish I would have read it sooner. It completely changed my view and upped my appreciation for the small bits of happiness God blesses us with on His earth.

It's never too late for a New Years resolution, right? Well, my resolution is to stop waiting for the next grand event or thrilling adventure.

I want to start cherishing each small moment in every day and counting it all joy.

Whether it is a weekend beach trip with all your friends that you've been waiting on for weeks, the random walk back to your dorm with a sorority sister who spoke just the words you needed to hear, or even that moment of peace when you stand in awe of the beautiful world He has created, it's so crucial to find the nuggets of joy, love, and kindness that our loving Father created for us.

Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Jackson

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