Ask just about anyone, “Who’s a Jew?” and you’ll be told that a Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew, or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism.
The Reform movement, however, considers a person to be Jewish if either of her parents was Jewish and the child was raised Jewish. And this is why, as a kid who was brought up in a reform synagogue, I never had any reason to believe that I wasn’t authentic.
I had my bat mitzvah and confirmation alongside my friends, so I never had a clue that I was any different. Sixty of my relatives never resurfaced after the Holocaust — this alone has always connected me deeply to Judaism. In high school, I became a docent, and went to history classes to share lessons about the Holocaust with my peers.
I dreamed about going to Israel one day, and the summer I turned 16, I did. It was in Israel where, for my first time, that a Jewish scholar explained to me who’s a Jew and who’s not a Jew.
What do you mean I’m not a Jew?
According to Bryan Mark Rigg, author of “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military,” this rule goes back to the Roman empire 2,000 years ago when the Romans said you were only a citizen if your mother as a citizen. When in Rome, do like the Romans do!
In other words, a bunch of white guys got together and made this rule. (If you wonder if this has caused a ruckus for me on JDate, you’re right.)
Because we’re half-way into Hanukah — and I’m a half-Jew — I’m giving a shout (completely non-endorsed!) to a couple of my favorite gifts:
You’d never see me wearing a “Chai” Maintenance T-shirt — above — but I think it’s a clever play on words.
But how about this Hanukkah bush?
Yes, here’s to Hanukkah bushes.
I just sent a note to a cute, short, single guy on JDate, telling him I thought his profile was very well-written.
Guess how he responded?
“I’m not ready to adopt.”
That’s all he said. I’m not kidding.
I’m grateful to have all of YOU, readers. Thank you, thank you. It’s almost a new year!
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