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My dad is Jewish and my mom is Christian, which makes me exactly half Jewish. Even though my parent’s were divorced when my sister and I were very young, they still held strong to their spiritual beliefs, and raised us accordingly.
I guess you could say that I am literally half Jewish, and traditionally full, which basically means that I got to celebrate all of the fabulous Jewish feast’s and holidays, as well as attend a bar mitzvah or two every now and then. And I got Hanukkah and Christmas, that was a huge perk.
While growing up I always put people of the Jewish faith into two categories. The first group was the ones that never mixed milk with meat, and wore yamakkahs all day everyday, not just on special occasions like my dad. The second group was the one that I fell into, the one that played hide the Matzo’s at Passover, and had both a Menorah as well as a Christmas tree around the holiday’s. My dad liked to tell my Grandma that it was a Hanukkah Bush, to spare her sanity.
Some might argue that I’m not even Jewish. And if you passed me on the sidewalk, like most people (myself included), you would probably trust your own judgment that I wasn’t Jewish based on the looks of my medium sized nose, and my blonde-haired blue-eyed mother standing beside me.
In today’s society, I think that most people who claim to be Jewish are just like me, raised traditionally yet holding their own personal beliefs, while sticking to the core values of Judaism. For example, some people claim to be Jewish but they are Agnostic. Does this make them ineligible to be Jewish? I’m not too sure about that.
Although some stereotypes still exist about Jews being tight with their money and unethical with their business, in this era and especially in my age bracket, I think being Jewish is something that is starting to be seen from a different angle, and not just a negative one.
M.T.V. and other broadcast media don’t help the “Jewish American Princess” stereotype, especially when they feature shows like “My sweet sixteen,” featuring a spoiled Jewish girl complaining the whole time. But I guess Hollywood makes up for it with acts like Sarah Silverman that violate the J.A.P. stereotype real fast.
I was well aware of the stereotypes that came along with being Jewish, but I never felt discriminated against, even though I was indeed a minority in my small town. I guess I just never believed the stereotypes, because they didn’t apply to the way I experienced being Jewish, in fact my friends thought it was pretty cool, and I did too.
When I moved from suburban Colorado to the big city life in L.A. the lifestyle seemed to be that, besides the ones who hung around Pico and Robertson in West Hollywood, the majority of the Jewish population in L.A. was just like me.
As of now, that’s the way I see most Jews of southern California, with more focus on tradition, rather than Orthodox ways.
Maybe it’s because what is being emphasized about the religion, is now being seen as admirable traits that Jews possess rather than considered negative stereotypes.
It seems like, in the eyes of Southern California, it’s cool to be Jewish, at least from the Hollywood perspective. Maybe people are starting to realize that those discriminations or stereotypes aren’t anything to be ashamed of, but rather to be proud of. What’s wrong with being fairly liberal and being good at handling money?
So who is a Jew? It seems hard to define a minority group without doing so by using the terms that stereotype that particular group as a “minority” in the first place.
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African descent Mexican descent European descent Armenian descent Jewish descent Asian descent Middle Easter descent LGBTQ Natve American descent Central/South American descent Deaf