Monday, March 7, 2011

American Jew? Jewish American?

Commentary from Anastasia:

The Former Anti-Semitic, Recovering Jewish American Princess

Putting herself out on a limb, once again.

Here goes.

Am I an American Jew?

Or, a Jewish American?

The question is plaguing me today.

Which is the politically correct way for me to identify myself with this mixed heritage of mine?

Beyond whatever some official statement policy might dictate, which one comes first, Jewish or American, in terms of my identity?

Which one is the true “truth” actually makes a huge difference to me.

But, I ask you, do you know which is the true truth of the matter?

And, what about my “truth”? Where does that fit in here?

I am 100% of Jewish heritage. My immigrant grandparents came to this country from Russia and Rumania (which I generally include in Russia when I wish to be brief though that is not technically, 100% correct).

Still, I rarely, ever identify myself as a Russian Jew.

Actually, I despise being called a “Jew” at all. For me, the word still smacks of being a label, an unsavory one at that.

Now, where did I get that idea?

Nowhere specific that I can place.

Probably just an accumulation of this, that and the other thing.

Life in other words.

(Only once in my life --when I was five or six -- did anyone ever call me a "dirty Jew." And, that little girl, a playmate's little sister, had to apologize to me.)

But here I sit, still having a bit of a charge, after all these years, over the word.

Typically, I acknowledge this “Russian/Jewish” identity of mine only when I speak to others of this same heritage who might do similarly. And, still are able to speak of the "old country." In other words, others who are also carrying this same or similar“mixed heritage” of mine.

Now the question arises in my mind as to when do I get to just simply be an American?

By your standards?

By the dictates of the policy makers?

It is all quite complex.

How do these issues sit with you, if you’ve ever considered them?

Especially in the wake of our forthcoming congressional hearings on Muslim/Americans.

Or are these people really American/Muslims?

Do you know what to make of all this?

I'm sure I don't know.

I do know, however, that the issues that I am presenting, insofar as they relate to me, have some bearing on my only recently resolved, personal, anti-Semitism.

Though I am, 100% of Jewish heritage, I did this to myself, made myself an anti-Semite for decades.

I take full responsibility. I own it. I am the problem!

Still, I am a very smart, well-educated, socially and politically astute woman,

Additionally, I have close to four decades of skill development and experience in overcoming problems of polarization.

So I ask you -- How come there have been no religious, civic channels or federal government sponsored, public dialogues to discuss and help me work this anti-Semitic stance through.

Anti-Semitism has been shown to, potentially, have deadly consequences, you know.

More perplexing, yet quite enlightening, is the fact that my recent resolving of this anti-Semitic “defect” of mine, simply seems to have come to pass by my “naming” my confusion over my Jewish/American or American/Jewish identity on my blog to nameless, faceless “others.”

How very strange!

Indeed. Isn’t that something?

Now as I witness the enormous challenge before us of Muslim/Americans – or – are these citizens of our country really American/Muslims – I ask myself --

What am I?

What are you?

What are we to one another, if we are not the “other”?

And, am I – and --- we – really doing everything we can to get past our “otherness” where it counts (wherever that may be)?

So we can truly be a “unified one” more often than we are presently doing?

I’d really like to get some collective answers to that one.

Thanks for letting me share.

Anastasia At nightfall

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