Friday, September 22, 2006

l'shana tova tikateyvu!

Hey, as this is the day where at sundown it becomes Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year and hey, since I've been meaning forever to open my mouth and talk about what it means to be a gentile friend to my beloved Jews, this here marks the spot.

There's so much to say. And so much pressure not to say it!

I mean, *cries* the anti-Jewish oppression I grew up with was SO insidious, SO almost invisible by matter of being woven into everything--the very fabric of Protestantism--that I was incredulous when I was named as anti-Semitic seven years ago by my husband.

What a wonderful, German-American man.

One day he just said to me, "That was racist!" (A remark I had made in passing.) How indignant I was, "Of course it wasn't, stupid!" --hurling out the fear and pain I kept buried underneath my self-righteousness.

Uh, yes it was.


Time passed and I had some Jews in my life. I listened on the sidelines as they spoke of what it was for them to be Jewish. I attended several Seders and had lessons on Shabbat--along with song, challah bread and grape juice.

My Jewish peer-counselors loved me, hugged me, showed me the vulnerability. Tried to convey the underlying fear they live with. We connected.

And with connection and listening, with telling one's story there is a shift that can happen. One's mind can grock. It can open and re-evaluate. I saw after some time the anti-Semitism that is indeed woven into the fabric of this society. I know now that Jews have been scape-goated, used, throughout history for a variety of purposes and that it isn't right.

There's so much confusion, purposely, about who the Jewish people are. And I don't pretend to be able to explain their entire history or to be able to explain Judaism inside and out--I am writing today as a start. A place to mark the spot.

This is to say that Elul is ending--a time of introspection, looking in one's heart for what hasn't been working and dig deep. It's a good time to apologize or make amends where something has been in the way of relationships in the community.

The new year and a time for new beginnings is upon us. And this is the Jewish New Year one of the biggest holidays up until Yom Kippur.

Why do I do this? Why am I, a gentile woman, acknowledging and even participating in Jewish traditions? Well, the way it was explained to me by my Jewish friends is that they have felt invisible in many ways and in that invisibility were set up to be seen as "wierd". Not to mention lies made up about what they were actually doing.

So, for me as a gentile friend to actually know and talk about and even share with others some of these traditions is a slap in the face to the lies and the invisibility. It's a way to end anti-Jewish oppression.

My favorite is Shabbat. A rest. Time to be. Families hang out together and sing. *cries*

How smart.

Lately, with a group who has been sharing Shabbats as part of a weekend workshop, the Jews had a black gentile ally lead the Shabbat and do something a little different. They had been feeling like the Shabbats had been becoming too much of a show and they wanted the emphasis to be on just being. We wouldn't be pulling on the challah and singing and drinking the juice together--although it was available in the back of the room. Instead we got in pairs and listened to each other for a few minutes on what it means to just be. Then, they asked us all as allys to do a little homeowork. They asked us to get ourselves invited to a home Shabbat. This would mean building a relationship with a Jew already in our lives to the point that we might be invited to Shabbat.

They didn't want to be the only Jews in our Gentile lives. They want us to expand and really go deeper in our work to be allies.

So, like I mentioned earlier. There's tremendous pressure in the society to NOT talk about Jews, to not bring it up as an issue. And I stammer and I may stutter but I'm bringing it up. *smiles*

But seriously, why? Is it to feel okay about myself? No. It's not the Jews job to "make me" feel better about myself. I do any ally work of any kind because I want myself 100% in the present. I get to to do this work as part of powerfully co-creating the world I want.

Now I'm out of time and this comment may be as disjointed as any. When you talk about something you're *not supposed* to even think about, it might start out awkward. But just so you know, if anybody can't think there and believe me it's hard to think there because of all the propaganda about--but I'm thinking of one woman in particular--a Jewish lesbian who fights hard to set things right on this planet--voicing to me her concern for the Palestinians.

Just as you and I aren't backing Bush in his war-hungry regime and yet the US is doing the unspeakable around the globe; of our beloved Israelis, there are many who have thought of peaceable solutions. Those solutions haven't as yet been implemented. I'm trying to say that Palestine needs support and we need to stop blaming Jews ... more to come ... and what better time for peace efforts than this weekend as we soul search and reach out to those we might have wronged.



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