There is something about being outside of New York that always makes me feel more Jewish. I don’t know exactly what that means, but when I lived in London being Jewish was actually something people asked me about. As if it were somewhat foreign or exotic. Neither of which I consider it to be. In New York of course everyone is Jewish – and I don’t mean that literally as in the largest population of American Jews live in New York City, I mean that whether you are Italian, Irish, African-American, whatever, you’ve got a little bit of Jewish in you because that is just one of the dominant flavors of New York. So eat your bagel, rent Annie Hall, take your kids to the museum on Rosh Hashanah because the schools are closed, vote for Bloomberg, watch Seinfeld, say “Oy vey” as if you heard it in the womb– you’re kind of sort of Jewish if you grew up in New York City.
Outside of New York this is a whole other thing entirely. Its hard to believe you can be sheltered by living in New York City but this is one of those instances where it is shocking to leave the city and discover what is being discussed or believed in the rest of the country and world. When people think about the persecution of European Jews they usually think of two major anti-Semitic events – The Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. Unfortunately those two major historical events are just part of an insane timeline of legal discrimination, segregation and genocide. I remember being 15 the first time I came to Spain with a group of teenagers and when they took us to the old Jewish quarter in Toledo one of the kids asked, “Where did the Jews go?” Without skipping a beat the tour guide said, “They just left” As if one day all the Jews looked around this city they had lived in for hundreds of years, the stores they ran, the schools they attended, the roots they had put down and said, “The neighborhood is really changing let’s move to Boca.” Continue reading