Author Topic: “Not Jewish Enough”: Finding Acceptance in My Community  (Read 1411 times)

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Offline Wulfgar

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“Not Jewish Enough”: Finding Acceptance in My Community
« on: October 13, 2013, 03:43:54 PM »
http://inourwordsblog.com/2012/02/06/not-jewish-enough-finding-acceptance-in-my-community/


February 6, 2012·by inourwordsblog· in Editorial, LGBT, Life, Religion. ·


by: Kayla Higgins
 
One of my greatest anxieties growing up with a Jewish mother and an Irish Protestant father was that my Jewish peers would not consider me “Jewish enough.” At the sleep-away camp I attended for six summers as a pre-teen, the Jewish girls there pronounced that I could not possibly be Jewish because of my skinny nose and red hair. I didn’t look “Jewish enough.” Then, several years later at the Hebrew school I attended, I was socially exiled for claiming one day at bagel break that my celebrity crush was Leonardo DiCaprio, a statement met with awkward silence and then the bewildered statement from one girl: “But he’s not Jewish!” I was left to wonder what she would have said if I had mentioned that my father was not Jewish, or that my second-biggest celebrity crush was Keira Knightley.
 
Shortly after that experience, I stopped attending Hebrew school and almost gave up on ever feeling “Jewish enough.” It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I decided to tap into my Jewish identity again by going on a Birthright-Israel trip over winter break. I immediately felt comfortable in my group as I started to recognize a lot of other students on the trip that, like me, came from interfaith and progressive Jewish backgrounds.
 
However, on one of our long bus rides I got into a heated argument with an Orthodox Jewish student over his claim that if one did not believe that Jews were “G-d’s chosen people,” then one was not truly Jewish.  Something about that claim struck a chord inside me, and I argued with him vehemently that the belief that Jews were “holier than non-Jews” was, in fact, contradictory to Jewish beliefs about the equal value of all people, and that it was not so different to say that Jews were holier than non-Jews than it was to say that straight people were holier than gays!
 
Until the words flew out of my mouth, I didn’t realize that I cared. But the passion that arose inside me as I said them made me realize that this was a conviction I had been carrying around inside for years, along with the knowledge that I was queer and for that reason I might never be considered by some Jews as “Jewish enough.”
 
I soon discovered through my Jewish exploration in college that I was not alone in my convictions among other progressive Jews, and even among some conservative Jews. Indeed, I discovered that the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards holds that the Talmudic concept of Kavod HaBriyot (translated literally as “honor due to G-d’s creations”) permits lifting rabbinic decrees on the grounds of human dignity, and used this principle in a December 2006 opinion lifting all rabbinic prohibitions on homosexual conduct.
 
The benchmarks for what allowed me to pass as “Jewish enough” changed as I grew older but were more or less always the same premise in disguise: that there was one standard of what it meant to be Jewish, and that not fulfilling that standard made me somehow inferior. What I know now is that the concept of Kavod HaBriyot makes this benchmark of “Jewish enough” irrelevant, because Judaism ultimately upholds the equal dignity of all human beings, even bisexual redheaded half-Jews like me.
 


Kayla Higgins recently graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Law, Letters & Society. She now divides her time working as a Research Assistant at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and volunteering as an intern with the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender. She identifies as a bisexual Jewish feminist and presented as such on a panel last Spring called “Queering the Faith Townhall Discussion: From Dialogue to Action” at the Adler School of Psychology.  In her spare time she likes to run, read comics, and veg out in her vegan housing co-op with her adoptive family of 24.

Offline Wulfgar

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- “Not Jewish Enough”: Finding Acceptance in My Community
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2013, 03:45:43 PM »
From the Comments section:

Quote
Kayla – you aren’t half Jewish. You’re Jewish. By virtue of the fact that your mother is Jewish. If off handed adolescent comments about the fact that you don’t look Jewish (you don’t, by the way) or that you should date a Jewish guy rather than Leonardo DiCaprio, then the problem is not any strain of Judaism – but it’s your own feelings of Jewishness or less-than Jewishness. That G-d has a special relationship with the Jewish people is, in my opinion, not only obvious, but also is a central tenant of our faith. That “orthodox guy” on the bus was right. Being a Jew carries with it an honor and obligations that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m not sure why that is problematic.

Offline BlackVeil

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- “Not Jewish Enough”: Finding Acceptance in My Community
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2013, 06:03:43 PM »
She is not only of mixed ethnicity, and Jewish, she is also queer, and a vegan as well!

Awesome.

Offline FrankDialogue

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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2013, 06:09:07 PM »
Pppppfffttttttt!!

Offline dominique

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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2013, 10:06:54 PM »
She is not only of mixed ethnicity, and Jewish, she is also queer, and a vegan as well!

Awesome.

Needs to move to Tel Aviv - aka "The Gay Capital of the World" - ASAP.

"Divert, distort, denigrate, disrupt or destroy any discussion of the corruption of American liberty by the organized lobby of a foreign power."  ~ WindRiverShoshoni

Offline Dwayne

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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2013, 03:13:26 AM »
She is not only of mixed ethnicity, and Jewish, she is also queer, and a vegan as well!

Awesome.

She eats kitty... she's no vegan.

Offline Wulfgar

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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2013, 04:59:18 AM »
She is not only of mixed ethnicity, and Jewish, she is also queer, and a vegan as well!

Awesome.

See what indoctrination, err education, does.