My culture is black and queer while my religion is Jewish. This is not to say that they cannot coexist. To some Jews that I meet whose culture differs from my own, it becomes an issue of I’m wrong and they are right. This happened most recently with an acquaintance, who happens to be a lazy Jew. When I say “lazy” I mean he’s not observant. This is not to say that an observant Jew isn’t lazy, it’s just that New Jews tend to be more observant than your average secular Jew because we’re knee deep in Judaism. This argument can be saved for another time.
Just for clarification here’s a list of things that are not Jewish.
1. Jesus (as God’s son)
2. The Pope
6. The New Testament
On the contrary, things that are Jewish are vast and varied based on location, culture, and tradition. One of the reasons that my connection to Judaism is heavily leaned towards the spiritual and religious aspect as opposed the culture of Judaism is because some people cannot get past the fact that their Jewish culture is not the Jewish culture. This fact was made perfectly clear when I was telling this particular person what I would be serving for Pesach. I got to the part where I was telling him that I would be roasting a lamb and he interrupted me by saying, “You can’t serve lamb at Passover!” Funny, there’s a lamb bone on the Seder plate and in temple times there was a paschal lamb. Not to mention that the Angel of Death passed over the homes of Jews during the last plague because of the lamb’s blood. I amused him, though, and asked why he felt lamb couldn’t be served for Pesach. He didn’t have a definitive answer except to say that it’s not what you eat on Passover. Then sealed the deal (and an invite to my Passover table) by saying no one in his family would eat lamb.
Huge statement, right? Not everyone likes lamb. I realize this which is why I’ll have a fish option and another meat option. But to say that no Jew eats lamb on Pesach is absurd. Surely the Jews of ancient Israel were eating lamb and Jews in the Middle East today eat lamb. According to the Pesach menus suggested in my 3 Sephardic/Israeli cookbooks there are Jews today that eat lamb for Pesach. I will be one of them.
Hearing sweeping “Jewish Statement” like his is nothing new to me. It’s not the first time that I’ve been told that who I am and what I am isn’t really Jewish. It has become so frequent that I’ve gotten used to it, which is bullshit. As a rule, I don’t put up with bullshit so instead of keeping closed mouthed I told this person that while their Jewish culture differed quite drastically from mine, I would be serving lamb at my Seder table and that my Seder would be Jewish. Middle-Eastern and Sephardic with hints of Southern American, Ashkenazi and African American stables but most definitely Jewish. The fact of the matter is there are thousands of Black Jews, Latino Jews, Asian Jews and Gay Jews too. We’re all Jewish and how we Jew is just as Jewish as how you Jew-even if it’s different.