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Sep 2 2014

Back to (Not Very Jewish) School

By at 1:21 pm

back to (not very jewish) school

School just started here. With my boys starting first and fourth grade, I’m reminded of when I moved to this small town in 1986, when I was 7 years old. We moved from East Brunswick, New Jersey to Lake Mary, Florida.

Lake Mary is a charming, beautiful suburb of Orlando. It was recently named one of the top 10 places to live for families in Family Circle Magazine. I have no complaints about my parents’ decision to move here. But we might have been among the first Jews to move in. My Jewish family up North was so certain that we were being moved to the actual “Bible Belt” that they mistakenly referred to it as “Saint Mary.”

Although my parents aren’t very observant, they were acutely aware that it would be a bit of a culture shock to move from a state where Jews were everywhere to a place where we had to travel 30 minutes to find a theater that played the latest Woody Allen movie. Looking back, I think they handled it really well. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 11 2012

Shielding My Kid from Christianity

By at 9:49 am

rudolph the rednosed reindeerWhen E was younger I was determined to treat Christianity as a secret I could keep from him. This would be no small feat in our neck of the woods. Churches abound. Billboards and bumper stickers Praise Jesus! Grocery clerks tell customers to have a blessed day. In the heart of the south, where upon learning your name, the next question many ask is: “Where do you attend church?”

E was born in Boston where I was heavily entrenched in the Jewish community. Six months after his birth, we moved to my hometown of Atlanta and I found the pervasiveness of Christian messages overwhelming. After living in Boston for nearly eight years, I had forgotten just how much Jesus rules the South. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 10 2012

Yes, I Live in Nashville, and Yes, I am Jewish

By at 11:44 am
electrician

"You joosh?"

Time to hide the Jew stuff: the HVAC guys are coming. HVAC is pronounced H-V-A-C, by the way. I used to say “aytchvack,” thinking I sounded cool and handy, until a technician corrected me. I’ve checked online, and authorities are mixed, but I’m sticking with the letters.

We chose a huge maintenance firm based on the assumption it would give us peace of mind. Not with prices or guarantees, but with accountability via a hierarchy of supervisors. When we had dudes from small handyman services, I never knew what would happen. I could be preached to, “witnessed” at, or told I’m going to hell. Why? Because we live in Nashville and our house is Jewish.

Evidence is everywhere: e.g. books, seder plates, Hebrew puzzles, Ketubah (wedding contract, jumbo-size, gold letters) and whatever holiday project I might be in the middle of all scream Jewiness. If my husband is home, he’s the evidence himself, what with his Ashkenazic je-ne-sais-quois and Philly dipthongs. Sometimes, I’m glad when he is, so I don’t have to deal with the weirdness alone, but sometimes his presence is what triggers the weirdness. “Are you Joosh?” the tree man asked him, “’cause you sure look Joosh.” And so on. Read the rest of this entry →

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