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.
90
views

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

Popular Right Now

15 Bible Verses To Calm An Anxious Mind

Finding peace in the midst of turmoil.
430306
views

Anxiety hits us from all directions. Whether it be school stress, work stress, a stressful family situation, or anything else in life that causes us to feel unsettled, tired, and afraid of the future; anxiety can feel like it's taking over our lives.

As someone who constantly struggles with anxiety, I know how hard it is to find peace in the midst of a stressful situation. When we feel anxious about something, we generally try to do all that is in our power to control the situation. When we can't control it, we become even more anxious. So how do we stop this downward spiral of anxious turmoil?

We must turn to the one who is in control of all things. God holds all of our lives in his hands and is the only one who can calm our anxious minds. When we frantically struggle to put the pieces of our life together on our own, we will fail.

The only way to gain peace in the midst of anxiety is to turn to God, trusting in His perfect will and His power to hold us in His hands. The best way to remember this truth is to look to the Bible. Here are some verses to help us remember God's provision in the midst of anxiety.

1. Philippians 4:6

We don't have to be anxious when we can freely talk with God about our needs. We can cry out to Him for help and He will hear us.

2. John 14:27

Peace is a wonderful thing. Notice how it says, "I do not give it as the world does." We have to remember that worldly peace is only temporary, but God's peace is forever.

3. Isaiah 41:10

Not only will God give us peace, but He will also strengthen us. The image of God "upholding us with His righteous right hand" is pretty powerful and very comforting.

4. Psalm 94:19

Anxiety can make us sad and upset, but knowing that God is with us can bring so much joy in the face of desolation.

5. Psalm 34:4

Freedom from fear is so empowering! Imagine God setting us free from all the fear that holds us back. Oftentimes fear can make us feel trapped, but God can set us free.

6. 1 Peter 5:7

God cares about us so much, that He allows us to cast all of our worries on His shoulders.

7. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Human capacity is limited. We can by no means do everything, in fact, we can't do anything without the help of God.

8. Philippians 4:13

Nothing can hold us back or scare us when we have the strength of God.

9. Proverbs 3:5

We always try to lean on our own understanding, but it will never be enough. We try to control everything, but it will always fall through. It is because of this that we need to trust in the Lord for everything.

10. Matthew 6:25-34

This passage, while somewhat lengthy, is such a great reminder that God is truly in control of everything. We don't need to worry about a thing because He has it all planned out. We stress out about things that were never ours to worry about in the first place.

11. 2 Timothy 1:7

We were not created to be afraid, but to be empowered and loved by God.

12. Isaiah 26:3

If we simply keep God in the forefront of our minds, we will have perfect peace. Trust in Him brings the greatest peace.

13. Matthew 11:28-30

How comforting is this? Anxiety causes a lot of weariness but knowing that we can rest in God is amazing.

14. Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for us, so we don't need to worry about it. His plan is always good and always exactly what we need. His plans will always be better than anything we try to control ourselves.

15. Isaiah 41:13

When we feel anxious and afraid we can take comfort in knowing that God is reaching out His hand to us to help us trust Him and walk with Him.

While anxiety can feel overpowering or terrifying, we should not fear, but rather trust in the perfect and never-changing love and peace of God.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Evolution Of Easter

Hopping through time!
142
views

Among all modern celebrations throughout the year, Easter is one of the most ancient. It began as a Jewish tradition which turned into a Christian one and finally a secular one. Its diversity has led to many interesting celebrations. In the Jewish tradition, Passover celebrates the freedom of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery around 1450 BC.

It is named Passover because the enslaved Jews were to mark their doors with the blood of a lamb so that God would pass over them and not kill their first-born son. For Christians, Jesus Christ died on the Passover. After three days, Jesus resurrected which showed that he conquered death and sin. By his sacrifice, every person who believes in him will be freed from sin and death. This monumental event in Christianity is celebrated as Easter.

The transition from Passover to Easter was a long process. Early Christians celebrated Easter much like Jews had been celebrating Passover. There was even a big debate on whether to rely on the Jewish calendar for the date or create an independent way to figure out the date. As Christianity developed, Easter became more distinct.

In the end, Christians decided to create their own calendar. However, as time went on, even the new calendar became fractured. Now, Western Christianity celebrates Easter on a different date than Eastern Christianity.

In most other languages, Easter is better translated as “Passover”. But, in English, the name Easter comes from St. Bede, an 8th c. English monk who studied history. He wrote that Easter derived its name from the pagan festival of Easter, which celebrated the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre.

It was celebrated around the same time as Easter, and so, early Christians replaced Eostre with Easter. The name stuck through the influence of St. Bede. It literally means “dawn” or “east, toward the sunrise”.

In modern times, Easter has gone a secular transition as can be seen in the Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny. Originally, the Easter egg was a pagan symbol of new life. Christians adopted the egg as a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection and our new life. The empty egg is a symbol of the empty tomb Jesus was buried in. Today, the Easter egg is filled with candy.

Similarly, the Easter Bunny was a pagan symbol of Spring and new life since rabbits reproduce prodigiously. Christians adopted it as a judge who determined which children were good or bad during the Easter season. In Australia, the Easter Bilby is becoming a popular alternative to the bunny since they are pests there.

The long history of Easter and its interesting combination of cultures and traditions make it one of the unique holidays we still celebrate. Despite the many differences, life and people are at the heart of this celebration.

Related Content

Facebook Comments