It isn’t positive. It doesn’t feel good to be Jewish. It is some kind of complicated hate that is hard to describe. Most of the time, it feels as if the whole world hates Jews. Even Jews hate Jews. To be hated for what I am and the pain associated with that kind of feeling against me, my family and my lineage is hard describe.
I have been beaten by black children for slavery. I have been alone and called the “devil” while growing up in the Bronx by the Five-Percent Nation. I lost friends when they joined. They told me they could not associate with me. We played together as children and one day we couldn’t hang out anymore. For what reason other than I am a Jew and I am white.
I spent time as a teenager with kids of all diverse backgrounds, we didn’t care about color or race. We just wanted to hang out and have fun. Co-op City was full and diverse with people from everywhere. Still, there was hate. I walked out of school to go meet with some friends. I was walking out the back door and a large group of kids surrounded me. One of them I knew very well. He looked at me and said, “I’m sorry.” Sorry didn’t stop him from the beating I took. I couldn’t fight all of them .. and I wound up in the hospital that night. That particular beating left me with pain for the rest of my life both physically and emotionally. What hurt most was the apology before the punches and kicks. Isn’t this what we do here in our society today? We say “sorry” then we take the actions. Apologies for what we are about to do. It isn’t a shame, it is a fact.
If you want to know what it is like not to “fit in” anywhere, put a star of David around your neck and allow yourself to be choked by society a bit. That is what it is. It is a weight and a burden that I certainly didn’t ask for but I have to carry. We have tolerance for everything now (supposedly). We have actions and calls to raise the flag on all sorts of wrongs but the “Jew” gets the shaft because they are everything and nothing. A Jew could be black and a Jew could be Hispanic and if this is discovered it only increases the hate factor. It is easy to point a finger at a group of people and say that they are espousing hate but there isn’t one group. It is the world and all groups. There are individuals with tolerance but not groups.
At college one of my suite mates was from Yemen. He hated me and would regularly and randomly say “Jew!” like it was calling me kike or something along those lines. One of my Italian friends from Brooklyn would call him a “Sand N*^#r” and a fight would ensue. In fact, we had many fights as he would assert how important his religion is. We had one bathroom in our suite, there were many fights during the times he would take it to pray.
In the south, I have been told to my face I am going to hell because I don’t follow Jesus. Jesus was a Jew, they love him but they hate me. I asked that question to many people when they told me where I was headed and they don’t even know their own religion. The evangelical friends have given me “million dollar bills”
You see G-d chose your people but you do not understand there is only one way to heaven and it isn’t by being a nice person. It isn’t by doing good deeds, it is through Jesus. You don’t understand Howie and since you are here, I must tell you as it is my responsibility to save you. Be assured son, you are going to hell and this is G-d giving you a change to find your way out of that destiny. Just take the step.
I always associated myself with America. I think of myself as an American before anything else. Being an American is an important part of my identity. I served our country because I felt a connection. I don’t really feel a connection to Israel. I have never been there and I never really cared about it any more than any other place. That said, I never want anything bad to happen there or any where else. As a Jew I am not entitled to that opinion. In synagogue they ask for money “war bonds” to fund Israel to protect her. It is an island of refuge and a safe haven for the Jews.
The world hates us. We need an island to live on where we will be accepted. Some of us don’t even care about being Jewish per se but that isn’t good enough either. We must accept and embrace who we are. The American Jew is a lost child in the busy subway system of the world. Everyone walks by and has an opinion but few stop to help. It is a non stop constant barrage and even the Jewish people are self loathing. To the ultra orthodox Jew, what am I? What are my children? Some form of rejected hated half breed mongrels that would only be accepted if they go through some ancient rituals.
No Resolve No Solution
Being an American Jew honestly sucks. If I were something else, I could at least be identified. I am not something else, I am a Jew which means I am something misunderstood and something of sin and something of being chosen and something of being forgotten and something of being ignored and something of association with all that is hated in the world.
We are a minority and we as a people don’t even love ourselves. You tell me what we are destined for? I can’t explain what I don’t understand to my children. I can’t explain what I don’t understand to you.
All I know is, I am an American Jew. For this, I am cursed by who I am and blessed by where I was born. Explain that..
My prayers are with the families of those who were slain in cold blood and murdered while performing a naming ceremony for a baby in Pittsburgh yesterday. I pray that this will stop but I know our history and I believe our future will hold more of the same.