That’s the grade I gave myself for my last post. I’m more a cultural Jew than a practicing one. but that might change.
I was really just wondering why people say “Happy Chanukah to our Jewish friends,” when that’s kind of obvious.
When my grandparents came to this country they were excited to be free for the first time in their lives. They were excited that they could be citizens, excited to own land, (but were way too poor to), very excited that they could say whatever they wanted to, and when they became citizens could vote. That’s the mini-mini-version of why many Jews think of The First Amendment as sort of a bible.
My grandparents were also excited that they no longer had to actually practice their religion. Oppressed people sometimes do things as a revolt. My grandparents came here as teens and revolted both against organized religion, and I guess their parents though they would have never admitted that.
My father remembered being forced to go to a religious Passover Seder when he was three that turned him off any religious practice until I was thirteen or fourteen and we went to visit relatives in Mobile Alabama who were Orthodox. He was thrilled that everybody took turns reading.
Our Passover’s went from being giant dinners to real Seders. My hippie Buddhist aunt–then a beatnik–had her kids make picket signs. “Pass over the Seder,” and other clever retorts. Everybody wanted me to read the most because I could read as fast as an auctioneer auctioning off the cows that would make the brisket. (Ick, horrible thought alert, too late.)
I loved them and miss the 40 people squeezing into our dining and living rooms.
Though I celebrate Christmas in some ways: Buy Christmas gifts; go to Christmas parties; and dinners, I’ve never had a Christmas tree of my own. It feels wrong. Though I do have white branches I’ve had forever, somebody puts red ribbons on every year when I’m not around.
I’ve been to Midnight Mass; don’t think that I’ve been to a Protestant Church celebration.
I resent the giant tips I have to give the building workers–but if it weren’t at Christmas time it would be another time of the year. I resent having to give gifts to people I barely know, but everybody resents that.
When I was growing up and until recently it wasn’t cool to be Jewish. Big Luce, my closest girlfriend, is of Puerto Rican Catholic/Baptist descent; and Rafael, my closest male friend is from Colombia and a non-practicing Catholic though he’s one of the most spiritual people that I know.
I spent years trying to explain how they’re automatically cool because of their ethnicity where I’m automatically a nerdy dork–sheerly from ethnic and religious background.
I finally got them to understand–and then Madonna made the Kabbalah cool, so thanks Madonna. Unfortunately the Kabbalah’s supposed to be learned after a person (male, 40 or over) learns the Torah inside/out.
Fave-bro-in-law made sure that fave-niece goes to a Temple where girls are considered on a par with boys and get to do everything. Someday, i hope, women will officially be allowed to learn The kabbalah. I will of course learn it because I’m not supposed to.
When my parents taught my sister and I to question everything they didn’t consciously realize that they were paying homage to The Talmud which teaches that there are no fixed answers but many, many questions.
(Not going to get into the Torah or the 695, I believe, commandments.) They taught us to be good, and to treat everyone well. But respect–well that belongs to the people who deserve it. Actually that subject re my parents will be a later post.
I love the Adam Sandler generation where being Jewish just is normal and can be referenced in songs and movies without a great deal of fuss. Jerry Seinfeld, on the other hand, shows us as as kvetchy, ironic people, who love nothing more than to sit around doing nothing but kvetching and still managing to get into trouble. Have to admit that I’m more used to the Seinfeld school.
I love America’s diversity; I love celebrating other people’s traditions with them. I hope that we’re not all thrown into a blender and come out homogenized. I hope that we don’t have to fight to keep our beliefs and identities, and I’m not talking about fighting foreign countries.
I hope that our troops come home soon and are safe. If this turns into another Viet Nam–I can’t imagine…..
I treasure The First Amendment because it gives us freedoms never spelt out by other countries. The First Amendment is one of the things that make us great.
I hope that it’s kept in its present form and not messed with as the voting amendments were in the 2000 election.
I fear that our country is moving in a direction that won’t allow us to be who we want to be.
But it’s holiday season for most everybody and in that spirit, I’ll enjoy every blintze, drink all the Cocquito Big Luce makes, laugh at the dancing Santa doll who also sings Elvis (Presley, of course) songs, and feel happy that I made it to 2005.
Yes, “enjoy every blintze” was blatantly stolen from an idol of mine, Warren Zevon’s philosophy of life, “enjoy every sandwich.” So do so!