Looks Jewish

The fact of the matter is there are a few things that when said out of the mouth of a non-Jew sound racist but are perfectly reasonable exiting the mouth of a fellow Tribe member.

This maybe be unfair. Un-PC. Un-liberal. Whatever. It’s fact.

A perfect example of such a remark is the statement: “She looks Jewish.”

Looking Jewish is, of course, a stereotype. It’s one that’s been used for hundreds of years by people who wanted to, at the very least, make fun of Jews, and at worst, completely annihilate them. But, as a Jew, I have found myself looking around the room from time to time, moreso when I was young and single, and asking myself or my Jewish companion: “Do you think he’s Jewish?” We’d then go about hazarding a guess based on the way he looked and how he dressed. As we got older, we might also take note of his hair, or lack therof.

Another twist on the same question is wondering out loud how a blonde-haired, fair-skinned girl is possibly Jewish. “She doesn’t look Jewish.” For many years, back when I used to be blonder than I am now, I often got strange looks from people when I told them I was Jewish.

I’m not the kinda Jewish girl who uses words like shiksa or goy; they don’t feel right coming out of my mouth. They never have. But I have said to a girl friend once, “That boy looks so ham sandwich. There’s no way he’s a Jew.” My friend, a Jew, knew exactly what I meant.

Since living in Israel, I have been amazed — yes, truly amazed– at how varied Jews actually can get. In the States, if you went to the AMC Marlton 8 movie theater in NJ when I was a kid, and there was a group of 5 guys standing smoking cigarettes in a corner, and those guys were all wearing black parachute pants, black v-neck t-shirts, and earrings, you knew those guys were not Jews. If you were a good Jewish girl, you knew not to date them; and if you were a naughty Jewish girl, you headed straight over. Those boys were Italian or Hispanic, or some version of Catholic.

Not so in Israel. That pack of Z-Cavaricci wearing boys either grew up, converted, and moved to Israel; or were born and raises in Tiberias. And YES, Mom, they’re Jewish! Here in Israel, the good boys and the bad boys — all Jews! The ones who open the door for you and the ones that would date rape you — all Jews! “Nice Jewish Boy” takes on a whole new meaning here in Israel. (Something I am fortunate not to have to worry about for another decade or so ’til my daughter starts looking at boys that way.)

Last week, I attended a hi-tech conference in Jerusalem. It was attended mostly by men, some of whom were non-Jews, I’m sure. (There was no formal poll, but it was a highly-attended international conference geared towards start ups and really rich people who want to invest in start ups.)

All the conference attendees were wearing name tags. If you are a Jew, you know (but likely won’t say out loud to a non-Jew) that it’s even easier to hit a bullseye when guessing if a man is Jewish by his name tag than it is by his looks. That said, without the name tags, if you had put these same guys in a hi-tech conference in San Francisco, I would never have been able to guess the Jews from the non-Jews.

I played a game with myself during breaks between workshops. I’d see a guy, and try to guess if he was a local (Israeli…Jew) or a foreigner. The fine-looking, finely dressed guys I thought were surely from Paris or Madrid or some other European cultural center were all named Yigal, Alon, and Amir! They were all Israeli. Jews!

This happens where ever I go here in Israel and it never ceases to amaze me. Whether I am buying my groceries or walking down the beach, there are Jews everywhere and they all look different. It astounds me that the most beautiful, model-like, bikini-wearing blonde leggy girl is sitting next to an obese, tattoo-covered guy smoking from a hookah in one hand and drinking a beer in the other; and they are both Jews!

(And if you’re wondering how you tell the Jews from the Arab Israelis, you can often hear a slight difference in the accent of their Hebrew.)

To the anti-Semites out there; or to the Jewish women (that I know personally) who sadly will not date Jewish men because they look “too Jewish;” I suggest the following antidote.

Visit Israel.

You will surely see once and for all that there is no way to color a Jew. We are hot; we are ugly; we are skinny; fat; dark; light; hairy; hairless; big breasted; flat-chested. We’ve got noses that look beaks and noses that look like buttons. We smell like aftershave; and we’ve got B.O. Some of us dress like hippies and some of us look like we just left our job at the strip club.

Why it took me moving to Israel to figure that out, I do not know.

But it’s clear to me that we Jews are a nation not only of many colors, but of hair textures, clothing preferences and chest size.

Now, if we could only teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

Limbo

I still don’t feel like I live in Israel.

This is probably because I don’t.

Technically, I do, of course. I am now an official citizen of the State of Israel. I have a new cellphone number and an address here.  I have a Teudat Zehut — and therefore, an Israeli identity. And by mid-week, all three of my kids will hopefully officially be in school.

I live here. But I am still in limbo.

Our shipment with all of our furniture, most of our clothes, our new Israeli small and large appliances, and all the material possessions that make it possible for me to live at peace with my children (read “Legos” and “dollhouse”) are still, supposedly, stuck in the port of Haifa.

Three days after we landed at Ben Gurion, our container arrived at the port. Unfortunately, that same day was the start of a week-long strike of the port workers. This is Israel.

The strike was finished a week ago, but we are still without our shipment, and also without any word of where it is or when it might arrive. Our rented home on Hannaton sits empty. We remain living out of duffel bags on the second floor of my very generous in-laws’ home in Kfar Hittim, a moshav overlooking Tiberias. I am fully aware that the situation could be much, much worse. We could be living in an Absorption Center, as many immigrants do. I could be living in a one-room apartment with not just three, but six children. I could be pregnant.

Things could definitely be worse.

And, things could be better. Right now.

Meaning, I could get over wanting this phase to be over.

I am a believer in the Law of Attraction. Say what you will, but it’s worked for me. Using a strong sense of focus and clearing my mind of negative thoughts, I somehow have been able to manifest anything from incredibly close parking spots to a huge bonus for my husband. Ask my family members about my parking luck…it’s not luck, my friends, it’s the power of intention.

So why isn’t the Law of Attraction working now?

How am I unable to attract a 40 foot container attached to a tractor trailor to my little red house on Hannaton?

I posed this question to my possibility-creating Facebook friends. One said: “Perhaps focus on the feeling you would feel once the shipment arrives. Just keep on thinking those feelings.” Another said, “If you can accept this moment just the way it is, everything gets easier- whether it all shows up or not. You do what you can and then relax and trust that it will work out in the best way possible.” (A lot of people “liked” that response.)

And, yet another said, “[Practicing the Law of Attraction] is harder than it sounds. That’s why they call it practice.”

Indeed.

Can I accept this moment just as it is?

Can I enjoy the chaos, the uncertainty, the cramped quarters, the unfamiliar tastes, smells, and sounds?

Can I be with the crying and the pushing and the acting out of my children? Accept that they too are in limbo?

Lord knows I’ve been trying.

But I know that I haven’t been trying hard enough.

I know what I am capable of accomplishing. Who I am capable of being…for myself and for my children.

I haven’t been her as of late.

When my friend Rita challenges me to accept this moment just as it is, what I know she’s saying is: “Choose it.”

Once I choose the balagan that is my life right now, I will suddenly have all I want. I won’t have to resist it any longer.

And even those who don’t practice Law of Attraction know what happens when you resist.

It persists.

So, what happens when I let go? When I accept? When I choose?

Anything and everything.

Limbo disappears.

And suddenly, I am here.

Living.