01 June 2008

A new Jewish identity

I never expected to find an essentially Jewish identity and genealogy story in Vanity Fair, but here it is.

In "Jewish Like Me," author Amy Fine Collins reflects on her lifelong role — above and below the Mason-Dixon Line — of being the only Jew in the room, and how an unexpected declaration by her daughter helped her reconstitute her identity.

Doesn’t everybody at some point in their lives have something about themselves that they wish to conceal? It could be a class background, an actual age, an accent, an ex-spouse, an illness, a habit, a trait, an ethnicity, a proclivity, a perversion. You feel shame and you fear discovery, and shudder at others who you sense share the same distasteful characteristic. Often the very feature that one imagines to be hidden is to the rest of the world an open secret.

From childhood experiences as one of only a few Jews in a town, a make-shift Hebrew School, a little Yiddish, dual holiday celebrations, embarrassing school moments, stereotypes, trying to fit in, school prayers, Jews in hiding, education quotas, anti-Semitism, Tay-Sachs, David Mamet, Theodore Herzl, Israel, Hebrew, and her daughter who brought her back to her faith.

Read the complete article here.

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