Him: Hello, are you Jewish?
Me: No. Well actually my mom was raised Jewish. And my grandmother was Jewish. But no, I do not practice Judiasm.
Him: Well actually if your mom is Jewish than you are Jewish. You do not need to practice.
Me: Well..ok...my daughter wants to light a menorah. Can I have one of those free ones you are handing out?
Him: Sure. You can teach your daughter about it.
And so on.
Two years ago I was angry and defiant. I took that damn free menorah because I was daring him to say no. I was daring him to call me a Jew so I could angrily say that NO I was most certainly NOT Jewish because I do not believe in God. I do not practice ANY religion. And just because my mom was raised in a Jewish home does not mean I am a Jew. But yes I want those candles because my little girl likes to light candles!!
Well to be honest. When that guy asked it I was Jewish I said no. Because I am not. But when I told him my mother was, I did not say it angrily. And when I told him I wanted to light the menorah with my daughter I did not say it defiantly. Because when I took the free Bedford Avenue menorah tonight there was a part of me that wanted to be in with that guy, to be in his club. I am not Jewish. Not really. But there was a part of me that kind of wanted to be.
And then I went home and Maya and I lit the candles to symbolize the second night of Hannukah. And as I completely botched the explanation for why we were doing that (I could only mumble something about 8 nights of magic oil), I wished that after taking the free menorah I had asked the dude for a summary. Like, hey can you tell me a five minute version of the story of Hannukah so I can share it with my daughter. Because it turns out that I really have no idea what all those candles are all about. And, um, I kind of want to.
I could blame on the two glasses of wine I had for dinner.
Or my period.
I could blame it on sleep deprivation.
But no, I am going to blame it on Facebook. Because last night, right before taking my usual Tuesday night karate class, I read two articles. One was from a woman who lost her six year old to the horrible shooting in Sandy Hook. And the second, was about what went on in Pakistan yesterday. Children. Gunned down in a school by the Taliban. Just to make a point.
More dead children.
So I wanted to be Jewish tonight.
I wanted to be anything.
Because I need to live in a world where there is hope. Where cops don't just kill unarmed people and gunmen do not go into first grade classrooms and terrorists do not shoot children in the head, well, not ever.
But this is not the world I live in. And no matter how hard I try to be loving and giving and to do good, to do the best I can, sometimes the hate and the fear out there is so overwhelming that all I can do is light some candles, even if I have no idea why I am doing it. (8 days? The oil lasted 8 days?)
So tonight, on this second night of Hannukah, (I think) I am Jewish. Maybe tomorrow I will be Catholic. Most likely I will go back to being an atheist but it is December, goddamn it and I need something.
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."
Your candles are really pretty.