Monday, November 8, 2010

I Don't Think We Need to Explain Ourselves

Because, well, why should we?

We are who we are, and our feet are sore. Our backs ache, our noses and ears are sunburned, there's bread growing on our shoulders (don't worry, it's not rising, at least not if you're Ashkenazi) and we think we may have made a mistake leaving the old neighborhood behind. What's a little whipping when you have a roof over your head and job security?

Fast-forward a few years and a walk across the sea and we've trudged through every stage of national existence at least a few times. Namely, wandering, nation-building (Take I), wandering, nation-building (Take II), wandering, wandering, wandering... and, as of last century, finally, nation building (Take III). (Persecution, being a constant, cancels out.)

So where are we now? Everywhere, carefully checking rocks for kosher marks before drinking anything from them (AFTER filtering for copepods) and impatiently waiting for the first minute of the third, fifth, or sixth hour so we can finally eat that Hershey's bar. And we're doing all this in abnormally dense urban accumulations where we build shuls two blocks from our houses so that we can walk the walk without actually having to do anything of the sort, and also because we don't like the rabbi at either of the shuls two blocks away in the other direction and God forbid we should be seen mingling with the Conservatives.

Somehow, maybe because of our wandering and maybe despite it, we've become so inwardly focused that we've stopped looking at what's around us. And who, for that matter. We just keep trudging ahead simply because it's what we've always done, with a little shuffle to the right or the left as the times dictate. Somehow the people who stop for a moment to check out the wilderness from whence we came, to breathe the air out there, to wander a little themselves, are the daring few, and far between.

Being Jewish is alright here, yes. Thank goodness. But it's worth reminding ourselves -- not others, but ourselves -- that being Jewish is alright out there, too. We of all people believe that this wide world was created for us to enjoy. So maybe we should make it a point to do that a little more often.

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