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Running on Jewish Time

Friday, December 16, 2005

Being The Jewish Girl

[Note: I will be graduating from the university in a few monthes and I'm taking mental stock of all the changes that have taken place in the past few years and the many things I learnt the hard way. So here it is: The first installment of whatever I decide to call this venture in strange and familar study]

It always starts with the name.
Oh that's such an pretty name. What ethnicity is it? What does it mean?
......and then there's the pause. You can see it in the eyes, watch as the 'Thou shalt accept other's little folkways' slogan scrolls across their mind. Finally, they venture some palid and bland observation. My name is hardly secular.

So, I smile and start talking about something else.

It always seems to take people by surprise. They seemed worried to mention it as if they offend me by alluding to it, as if it were some sort of embaressing personal abberation that polite people don't really discuss.

Then the eventually the questions come.
So, I heard.....
This Jewish holiday thing coming up, is that when you....
You believe this stuff because.............

and my absolute favorite.....
How come you aren't coming to class but so and so is?

There are other jewish girls but being the Jewish Girl is all about being the Jewish Girl.
The one who wears the long skirts,
(I dub thee, Skirt Girl!)
the one who is a supposed perfect authority on all matter pertaining to judaism, (What's the deal with kosher?)
the one who misses class for bizarre religous observance, (How many days in October are you missing!!)
the one who won't borrow money, (Just take it, what's the big deal?)
the one who doesn't do homework for 24 hours, (How do you pass any of your classes, anyway?)
the one who won't shake hands. (Is this some sort of hygeine thing?)

I'm different from everyone else there in a thousand ways, and yet they shrug and bend the rules around me.

The hardest part is though, eventually they forget the weird name, they forget the odd religous practices, and they forget all the differences and I become one of them, even when I not.

and even then, when I so want to fit in, and relax and pretend as if these are my friends who I grew up with and go to shul with and share my life with and just be myself, I remember I'm the Jewish Girl.


  • Wow Kol Hakavod. What a Nisayon.
    I encounter many similar similar questions at work but I'm not under any pressure to fit in..

    By Blogger David_on_the_Lake, at 9:03 PM, December 17, 2005  

  • Isn't it amazing when you finally realize that just because we are so different and it seems so hard to mainstream when in the big outside world, that we have no reason to really hide as is our first instinct? At least that was the way I used to think until I realized people respect you despite/for your differences.

    By Blogger FrumGirl, at 9:47 PM, December 17, 2005  

  • It's always so strange for me when they don't realize how different I am or when I cease to be different. Being frum is such a huge part of my life and so I assume I wear it on my sleeve, but then I come to the realization that I actually don't. That a guy who I spent an entire year in class with ahd no clue that I was shomer shabbat. And it makes me sort of sad that I don't wear it on my sleeve.

    By Blogger Eli7, at 11:40 PM, December 17, 2005  

  • I've been asked what my Xmas plans are and stood there blinking until the person realized... "oh yeah, you're the one who doesn't celebrate holidays"

    Its one of the things that really makes you that they don't share in the whole of your life.

    By Blogger Masmida, at 12:10 AM, December 18, 2005  

  • "You're the one who doesn't celebrate holidays" - Really? Where was this person the entire month of October??

    By Blogger Stx, at 9:17 AM, December 18, 2005  

  • Interesting. But why won't you borrow money?

    By Blogger Nephtuli, at 1:57 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • It's not a halacha practice. Its a comfort level pratice.

    I am not not comfortable with borrowing money in general. I am particulary not comfortable with the fact that in a mixed crowd and I ask for change for a five, the ones who don't have change but always have a dollar or two to lend are the guys.

    and I am not going to take money from a guy. Its too personal.

    By Blogger Masmida, at 2:26 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • wowee. thats great. you're great! i'm a soph in college, and i just fade. Not the way i would like,but rather, the 'jewish girl' part of me fades...Yea, i wear the skirts, keep kosher, shabbos, the whole shabang, but when it comes down to it, me and Ahmed can have a convo bout our Bio exam and the whole Jewish thing fades, were just college students like ne others.. i wish i had an tight hold on my jewish identity, but truth, im not there yet. its not soemthing you pick up in high school from all those 'hashkafah classes' they shove down your throat..its something i find im picking up just from living life. its one thing to know to know your boudaries, yet another to know your place as 'the jewish girl.' props to you masmida!

    By Blogger Lost, at 8:52 PM, December 18, 2005  

  • times are changing ansd so wil you
    trust me

    By Blogger Datingmaster, Jerusalem, at 11:59 AM, December 19, 2005  

  • Masmida: Seems like you should hook up with AskShifra. She discussed the same issue last month...


    By Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata, at 7:27 AM, December 20, 2005  

  • We deal with these issues here in Wisconsin too. I think for some of these folks we're the first religious Jews they've ever encountered.

    These interactions you're having with your non-jewish peers (and maybe with some jewish peers?) are the among the most important things you will ever do with your life.

    Leave a good impression.

    By Blogger PsychoToddler, at 8:44 PM, December 27, 2005  

  • How well I remember the difficulty of living among/apart from the other kids in university... You're doing a better job than most would or could, it seems... Good luck.

    By Blogger SS, at 5:29 PM, December 29, 2005  

  • My experience has been that non-Jews are more interested and tolerant than secular Jews, who tend to judge you as either nuts or lost in the past.

    Either way, companions who react by saying something or asking something give you opportunity to explain much about Judaism that is unknown or misunderstood.
    I like those who react better than those who ditch the subject as if it is too weird.

    You can't tell how much of what you explain is absorbed. But I think it's preferable to express your pleasure in who you are than to let the opportunity pass and thus confirm the negative presuppositions of your companion, or leave that hole in their knowledge.

    And I find it's a two-way street. There is much we need to learn about other groups, as we were advised by Maimonides.

    It has been a long time since I was a college student; and it has been only a short time that I know who I am. You are fortunate to be so aware so young - you can accomplish good with that awareness. Hatzlacha!

    By Anonymous accidental visitor, at 3:18 PM, October 15, 2007  

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