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Down with M.O.T.

May 22, 2009

the_melting_pot-23Jan2007111739562875My last name brings with it assumptions about my religion.  It ends with a common marker (‘man’) given to Jews who immigrated through Ellis Island.  In fact, my great grandfam came over in the belly of boat to escape the pogroms of Minsk circa 1900.  It wasn’t the first ‘relocation’ for the brood.  Their ancestors were filling up on paella pre-Spanish Inquisition.  Unlike the Monty Python boys, I guess they expected it and hung out in Switzerland for a bit.

My father’s father was born to the life of a typical Brooklyn Jew, though marrying a Shiksa from the Midwest and moving to corn country indicate that he was not particularly attached to those roots.  As Judaism is passed down matrilineally, my father and, by extension, his offspring are not considered “Members of the Tribe”.  In short, the quarter ain’t in the right quadrant.

The first few years of my career further the ambiguity.  Why else would I have worked for two Holocaust related non-profits?  It’s not great mystery: my family background draws me to Jewish culture.  (Not to mention the Jewish boys with dossiers in my Ex Files…)

A good delicatessen is a little outpost of heaven on earth and that shared value system has set the stage for romance.  Truth is, I am often more aware of the rituals associated with Judaism than the wayward Jewish atheists I have dated.  (Have you called you mother for Sukkot?)

While there are many blessings that come from having been cooked up in a melting pot, it’s led to a few ‘uncomfortable’ moments.  My personal fave was having a former boss insinuate that I misrepresented my faith so as to holiday surf during the hi-hos.  Who knew I shoulda added, “Shalome! I’m down with Jesus” to the bottom of my resumé?  Put on the spot, my response was something to the effect of,

“Ummm… errrr… uhhhh… I do Christmas with my family, go to Passover Seder at a former colleagues home, and just went to an Eid bayram with my Turkish boyfriend.”

Chalk it up to naivete, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it mattered and, for the most part, it doesn’t.  I liken the eye-opening experience to that of a marine biologist discovering a new species of jellyfish.  “Huh. I guess that’s out there.”

All in all, it’s not a bad awareness to have.  I was able to save one dude a bunch of time when tried to pick me up on Facebook.  He had taken a tone that pissed me off, and I, in turn, blew him off.  I couldn’t figure out why he continued to doggedly pursue me despite my purposefully bratty behavior.  Looking at all of the “I’m-Jewish-Single-and-Want-a-Jewish-Wife” groups he belonged to led me to an “A-JAH!” moment.  As last names are displayed on Facebook, I figured out that he had hopes that I was the ‘Sarah’ to his ‘Abraham’.  I gently informed him that I was a gentile, and *poof* he was gone.

Passover-2008-when-is-PassoverDon’t get me wrong, I still love the prominent nosed, neurotic Jewish boys.  (I’m not being facetious. It’s the G*d’s honest truth.)

In fact, my imaginary boyfriend is named Elijah.  Have you heard of him? He has yet to join me for dinner, but I’ll continue to set him a place until he does.

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