July 2022


Who Am I?

One of the pleasures of stopping by New York City was the opportunity to see my 94 year old Great Aunt. At the same my Father was in town—we were not originally scheduled to overlap until the blizzard cancelled his initial flight and postponed his trip to The City.

My Great Aunt is full of the wisdom that comes along with being 94 years old, some of which is confusing to both my Father and me, albeit for different reasons.

Whenever I am asked what I am, I reply that I am 50% Italian and 50% Russian/ Czech/ German/ Mutt. It’s as reasonably accurate as it can be for my ethnicity. Culturally speaking, I would call myself a Trance-Acid Loving American-Fag.

So while visiting my Great Aunt, she pronounced in one breath that she wasn’t religious, but in the next that she was Jewish I was left to wonder what she meant and how it applied to me.

Particularly when she implied that she thought it was bad that both my Father and I deny being Jewish.

Obviously my Great Aunt is not religiously Jewish, which leaves only the Cultural and Ethnicity strains to consider for I’m not religious—either Jewish or otherwise.

Ethnically I suppose that she is technically Jewish—as one passes the Jewish Ethnicity through the family tree via Mothers, and her Mother, as I understand it was Jewish. My Mother, who is full blooded Italian, doesn’t have a single drop of Jewish Blood in her family’s background as far as she knows. So by this measure, I’m not ethnically Jewish.

Culturally speaking, I’m not sure how one can be a Cultural Jew and be culturally distinct from most Americans. Bagels and Lox are staples of far too many people to single all of these people out as being Cultural Jews. Beyond the Bagels and Lox, I don’t really participate in anything else that I can readily identify as being culturally Jewish. I mean, I ate a Bratwurst for my late lunch today, thus eliminating me from following some of the basic tenets of being Jewish: I eat pork products.

So this accusation that I am denying my Jewish-ness is somewhat perplexing to me. I’ve never really claimed to be Jewish—nor have I denied being Jewish. Nor have I denied being Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu.

I’m just not any of these things: I am a Trance-Acid loving American-Fag of Italian-Russian-Czech-German-Mutt descent.

My father announced that all he claims to be is a “human being.”

So while I don’t think either one of us is in denial about being Jewish, I do think that one of us is in denial.

So really, I too am a human being.

3 comments to Who Am I?

  • I’ve run into a semi-similar issue: I’ve been asked several times if I’m Jewish. I think this is due to the fact that nearly every famous person named Jerry is Jewish: Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry Springer, Jerry Lewis, Jerry Leiber, Jerry Goldsmith, and most importantly, Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s !

  • Next time you are in Louisville let us know so we can meet you at Connections. It is my fav dar place.

    BTW, Your postcard is up this week! 😉

  • ChrisC

    People often ask my significant other(s) if I am Jewish. I never really gave it any thought though it could be with my paternal grandmother. She’s a bigot and won’t tell anyone what our ancestry is. *shrugs* I keep thinking there has to be Black, Native American, or Jew in there somewhere and I’m guessing the latter with my features.