All posts filed under: Featured Personal Essay

Being Half A Jew, Reluctantly

As a pre-teen, I didn’t often tell people I was Jewish. The frizzy hair, the glasses, the freckles, and braces – those were enough to contend with. Not that being Jewish should have been something to contend with. Yet in my adolescent mind, despite my liberal New York City upbringing and United Nations International School education, it was. Even in college, being Jewish was something I joked about. “This half of me is Jewish,” I would say, drawing a line down my face, indicating the left half. By then I had tamed my hair, gotten contact lenses, embraced my skin, and lost the braces. Yet my ancestry was still something of an ‘otherness’, something I wasn’t as willing to embrace, or to wear. Growing up in a half-Jewish half-Italian but completely agnostic family has its perks; we celebrated all the holidays. We lit a Menorah and had a Christmas tree, enjoyed Easter Egg Hunts and Passover Seders, without ever attending church or synagogue. I loved Matzoh and equally so the feast of the seven fish on Christmas eve …