Ryan Paugh and Caitlin McCabe, who I have known since when they were just out of college, sent me a Christmas card with the most adorable picture of them and their two kids. I emailed Ryan and said, “I love your card so much, that I decided to send my own.”
But I’m Jewish so I’ll send New Years’ cards and the only list of addresses I have is from my son’s bar mitzvah so I started with that and branched out.
My friend Sharon sent me a holiday card with her two kids and I love watching them grow year to year, card to card. I saw the name of the company on the back of Sharon’s card. So I went there to design my card.LH
But then I got a card from Tiffany and I realized I am only getting cards from Christians. Well, Sharon is Jewish, but she’s Israeli, married to a Christian, so even though she’s raising the kids Jewish, she takes her Jewishness for granted—it’s a luxury Israelis have that other Jews don’t, because there are no assimilation risks in Israeli Jews.
As an American Jew I cannot take my Jewishness for granted. I want my kids to grow up and have Jewish homes, but I would never in a million years not accept a daughter-in-law because she is not Jewish. My sons know all I want is for them to be happy, which is probably good for the world but not good for the Jews.
This conundrum of American Jewish identity has been rehashed a million times, though never as memorably as by Philip Roth in Portnoy’s Complaint, which is a messed-up homage to Jewish mothers culminating when Portnoy uses the family roast to masturbate. And there’s Sarah Silverman vying to give Jews control over the swing state of Florida, by telling everyone to call their Bubbie to drum up Democrat votes.
I think of all this when I realize that Jews don’t send Christmas cards. Or holiday cards, which is saying here’s a Christmas card from a Jewish family.
And New Year’s cards aren’t much better in the assimilation department because it’s like thinking of Chanukah as Jewish Christmas. (Newsflash: Chanukah is nothing to the Jews. It’s really only a minor holiday that is overblown by Jewish Americans searching for a holiday that allows them to be a part of the holiday season.) And really, a New Years Card from a Jew should be sent on the Jewish New Year, which is Rosh Hashannah. And probably you send honey, not cards.
This is my longing to belong. Notice how you guys often accuse me in the comments of being militant in my posts about homeschooling? People quote the saying “there’s nothing like the fervor of a recent convert.”
But maybe it’s more that I want to belong. I like that I belong to something. I can’t be Christian, but I can be a homeschooler, and as homeschoolers we are so much like each other, no matter what our religions are.
Jews have a history of being politically active. I think it’s because it’s a secular way to belong. But I have homeschooing. You are my way to belong.
Oh. And that photo? It’s the one I was going to use for our not-Christmas card. So I will use it here. I love the photo. And I love sharing my family with you.