To Jew or Not to Jew

I had a conversation with a couple of co-worker’s today about friendship. One girl was saying that because everyone in her social circles are Jewish, she loves to hang out with her coworkers who not. They provide some sort of change.

To give this some post some context I’ll back track a bit. Until 8th grade I went to public school in a small town. For high school I moved to Chicago to live with my dad and go to a Jewish school. Every summer I went to a Jewish camp. I went to Sunday school and Hebrew school. I lived with 4 Jewish roommates in a house when I went to college in Kansas. I still had my childhood friends from my small town who were not Jewish, but after 8th grade my social circle was filled with practically Jews. But things change-friendships ended, folks got married, had children, moved away and life moved on. Now I have a skimpy handful of friends who are of the same faith.

I don’t how to explain what being Jewish means to me because I don’t know anymore. I haven’t even been to high holiday services in a couple of years, I don’t keep kosher, I don’t necessarily date within the faith. To be Jewish has become more of a cultural thing (not at all unusual). I think the sects of Judaism need another category–there are othodox, reformed, tradional, conservative, reconstruntist-why not cultural? The Jew who has a special interest in Israeli film, art, books and yiddish words and an affinity to characters on TV shows, musicians, and comedians who happen to be members of the tribe. They don’t necessary date within the faith, or go to synagogue, but enjoy the occasional Shabbat dinner and charoset (diced apples and walnuts splashed with sweet wine) on Passover. Now I’ve got off topic…

The topic is friendship right? From my mid-20’s on, all of my friends have been of different faiths–most are non-practicing in any faith, but still, the days of being surrounded by Jews are long gone. Once in a great while I have a pang of longing for a community where others understand the same background and mentality, but mostly it doesn’t matter. I love my friends. The diversity of their backgrounds: British, Indian, African American, Southern, Eastern, Western, and Midwestern. Conversations are rarely dull as I tend to (thankfully) choose people who easily speak their mind, but are still are heart. And to me that is all that matters, religion has little to do with honesty, kindness, and heart.

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Filed under Human Behavior, Musings

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