What it’s Like to Own the Jewish Name Without the Education

Lifshitz is a decidedly, very Jewish last name.

Growing up in a mostly Catholic town, people assumed my “Jewishness” without really questioning me about my background unless it was to ask some token Jewish question.

“What’s the story of Passover?”

Or

“What do those Dreidel symbols mean actually?”

Most of the times, I mumbled a general answer partially because as kids, they weren’t too invested in my answer and partially because sometimes, I didn’t know the answer to their Jewquiries.

And it was awkward.

How could I own this Jewish name and identity, yet not understand enough of what this association means? As a child and teenager, I brushed these things aside but as an adult it bothered me.

Read More: What it’s Like to Own the Jewish Name Without the Education

A Mutt,

Laura

Confession of an Ex-Self Hating Jew: On Rosaries, Kikes, and Noses, a Childhood Tale

In the spirit of Hanukkah, I decided to let you all in on an excerpt and essay from my memoir, about growing up amongst anti-Semitism, my family, and questioning religion. From growing up with Christian lust, to my family history,  to figuring out who “Jesus” was, to local Anti-Semitism, it’s all here.

Please share and enjoy! There won’t be many more excerpts put up in the spirit of the book’s publication.

Oh, and a happy Hanukkah to all who are celebrating!

Confession of an Ex-Self Hating Jew: On Rosaries, Kikes, and Noses

I am six years old when I discover the most beautiful necklace hanging off of my best friend Danielle’s bedpost. It’s a long string of pearly pink beads that has a cross hanging from it. When I go to look at the stunning jewels, my eyes float down to the cross, and that’s when I see him.

He is a miniaturized version of a man with his head hanging so low, it looks as if it could roll right off his neck. This is when I notice that his arms and legs are stuck to the cross beams, as if he is a dead bug stuck to a flyswatter. The necklace seems to be protecting Danielle’s bed.

“Where did you get this necklace? It’s so pretty! Let me wear it,” I go to grab it off her bedpost, and before I can put it around my neck, Danielle puts her hand out to stop me.

She says, “This is a rosary, you pray with it.”

Pray with it? It looks too pretty to not wear.  Pretty things are for wearing, are for making women look beautiful. I am certain of that.

“This is Jesus here, on the cross, the son of God,” Danielle answers my questioning face.

Oh. Jesus. That guy. Except for Danielle doesn’t pronounce his name the way my mom does when she’s agitated. Danielle says his name very seriously. Unlike my mom who yells Jesus’ name when she’s mad as in “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Danielle uses him as jewelry for her prayers so God will listen to her. I find it fascinating, and wonder what else might there be for me to know about this mysterious religion.

Doubting the existence of such a strange rule, I question her again.   Continue reading