Friday, September 21, 2012

Former Anti-Semitic Recovering Jewish American Princess


Today summer, officially, turns to autumn, this day of the Autumn Equinox. Already summer heat is giving way to the crisp, cool of Fall. The nights and the mornings after are chill, but not so cold yet that we rearrange our morning habits; the eagerness to check the bird feeder's supply and a cup of tea outside on the deck.

Only a pair of sweats and a sweater are added to ensure our comfort now. Thus the seasons of the year turn, as the Jews of the world, too, put their hearts and minds to turning.

It is decreed by the ancient texts of Judaism that our tribe be called at this time to turn ourselves to review and repentance. Our designated ten days of repentance; also known as the “ten days of awe,” began last week. We have until next Wednesday to get with the program.   

One of my most important reviews continues to be the whys and the wherefores of my former anti-Semitism. Reading the prayer book of these High Holy days I am relieved to see that G-d wishes only for sinners to return to the path of righteousness; my sin here, apparently, being my renouncing my Jewish heritage.

It is stated – “YOU wait for him/her. Whenever he/she returns, YOU welcome him/her at once.”

This year I am so “returned” I actually made it to the synagogue to hear these oft-repeated words, reminding me that, now, having turned myself toward my Jewish heritage, I am apparently off the hook from being a sinner. The hardest part, I think now, wasbeginning the  “re-turn.” Then the surprise; while I had turned my back on my heritage, somehow Judaism still held a rightful place for me.

In retrospect, I think my turning away had much to do with Jewish injustices in Israel, as I perceived them.  My leave-taking exacerbated by the fact that I had not until recently found other like-minded Jews with whom to commiserate. The internet, thank goodness, changed that for me.
No longer alone with my views, I am, at last, resolved on my stance and public about it,  diplomatically and with discrimation, learning, too, to speak out about my views on Israel, as well as, on other Jewish matters. In the process I am removing several die-hard masks I was wearing instead of speaking my piece.

Off comes the mask that said nothing about the subject of Israel and what it means to me to be a JewishAmerican (or is that an American Jew?) as well as the mask with the bleached blonde hair, a persona of trying to “pass” as not Jewish that I took up in college and continued until my hair started to fall out from the bleach in my late twenties.
And, off comes the mask that shows you only the seat of my pants as I take off and flee to avoid the tensions and conflicts that can arise when expressing controversial views of my own.

"Walk tall,” one of my spirit sisters reminds me. And, I discover that I rather like that position, being vocal about the values I hold dear to my heart, resolving to do more and more of this taking a stand for what I believe, as the Jewish New Year, 5773, unfurls.
Can this way be any more troublesome for my loved ones and myself than had been my former going away?

I am beginning to suspect not. Already I am gaining a few rewards for the staying; the leaning into rather than away. Still, I will need, now, to “just keep swimming” as Dore, the fish, says in “Finding Nemo” and see what happens for me – “Next year in Jerusalem.”

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