While some people see Jews everywhere–controlling the media, running international banking, spreading Communism and corrupting our precious bodily fluids–I have the opposite problem: I suffer from Jew blindness. It happens time and time again:
“Do you want to sign this Hannukkah card?”
“Sure… Wait, Bill is Jewish?!”
“Um… Yeah. Duh.”
Or another time:
“Wait, he speaks Hebrew?”
“Well, yes, obviously.”
“That’s kinda unusual isn’t it?”
“Oh, wait, I get it…”
It can be embarassing, so I’ve asked if there’s some obvious detection method I’m missing. The answer: if someone is your friend, you just know that kind of thing about them, apparently. Well, maybe. But to me, Jewishness is one of the least important things about a person. Oh, sure, if they keep kosher, that’s useful information; but I’m talking about ethnicity here, not observance.
Sometimes the signs are unmissable. If you’re Israeli, or your surname is Cohen, I’ll probably catch on. If I see a menorah or a dreidel, I’ll make the obvious deduction. But still, this December has resulted in the usual handful of surprise revelations.
Truth is, I’ve often felt a little jealous of persons of the Hebrew persuasion. While I have a little Jewish ancestry a few levels up in my family tree, there’s no maternal line of descent; but when I learned this, I had to wonder if it was connected to my instinctive dislike of pork and bacon since early childhood. I’m undeniably bookish, a little neurotic, guilt-ridden, and prone to overintellectualizing things. I’ve been told I’d make a good Jew. And who wouldn’t want to be part of a rich and ancient culture that values scholarship? Obviously there have been a few downsides over the years, but I think that’s over with now, isn’t it?
So if I’ve said anything over the years that seemed like an insensitive slight against your Jewishness, please consider the possibility that I simply haven’t worked it out yet.