WARNING: There is an excessive use of the word “Jewish” in this post. To some extent it was unavoidable.
Just real quick before I delve into this topic, I wanted to mention that I have not been editing any of these blog posts. I just read back through some of them and realized how bad my phraseology and grammar is in some of these posts, even spelling errors. This blog isn’t a proper reflection of my writing abilities…and really there’s no excuse for bad writing. A lot of these posts could be improved with some editing, but I’ve been so slammed with actual writing projects and life and I mostly just wanted to document my Jewish journey before any of it left my memory. So it’s been somewhat stream of consciousness, first draft, post. I’m thinking no one reads this blog so what does it matter, but just in case, I want to make it known that I know that my blog writing is not so awesome (but, admit, it has potential. I could turn this into a book: Becoming Jewish: How Judaism Converted Me. I just need an editor, publisher and someone to believe in me)…MOVING FORWARD.
Ugh. I don’t know where to start with this one and I don’t want to come off as preachy or dogmatic, so let’s start with the fact that I had never heard of the word “Antisemitism” until I was in my mid-twenties and for the longest time I had no idea what it meant. I just figured, Oh it’s one of those political ideologies like Pacifism, in which I actually do believe in…
TO CLARIFY, Pacifism (because these terms get lost and forgotten): the belief that any violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstances, and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means.
When I lived in Chicago I had befriended a Rabbi Lieutenant in the Navy and I thought Judaism was cool. Why would anyone hate the Jews? But then I moved to Los Angeles and I did notice that some people had a problem with Jews. I never really understood it…until I myself was labeled an Anti-Semite. BACKSTORY: So…I was working for this highly successful (probably famous in the judicial world) attorney. He hired me to do a rewrite on a script dealing with the Vietnam war, amongst other bits and pieces of work (research for a startup Production Company). He had been part of the Watergate Commission back in the Nixon days and had set a precedent reclaiming looted artwork during the Holocaust. Anyway, he was very clever and very old and always kept referring to the fact that he was “Jewish.” It became ridiculous. I often heard him say to others, “Is he Jewish?” Like the word Jewish got tossed around so much along with the concept that Jews were better than everyone else that I felt like I was perceived as “not chosen” and “not good enough” because I wasn’t Jewish. He was also very Hollywood, so everything was exaggerated. He’d answer the phone, “Person’s Name baby…how’s it going?” He was kind of like Louis B. Mayer, but of the law world. Anyway, he decided he didn’t want to pay me anymore for this rewrite (according to the person I was writing with…I wasn’t submitting to the casting couch propositions. Sure, maybe he was enamored by my youth, but I so hoped to God he perceived me as more of a daughter, than a vixen). So he said to me whilst we were driving from my writing partner’s house (a retired doctor who the attorney had intentionally partnered me up with to complete the rewrite), “We have no money. The project is off.” And by this point I had been driven to some kind of insanity by this man combined with my own poverty driven despair (I was struggling financially and I was heavily stressed…), so I said sarcastically, “Why can’t you just ask one of your Jewish friends for money?” Maybe my retort was inappropriate, but it was in response to the over referencing of all things “Jewish.” It was like this mantra that taunted me. Anyhow, directly after I said that, he slammed on the brakes in the middle of the road and labeled me an Anti-Semite in a lion-like roar. I thought he was going to kill us both…the car was still skidding and swerving all over the road. Luckily…there was no bridge in sight to dive over, cause I have no doubt that would’ve been a temptation.
After that happened, I became paranoid about dealing with Jewish people. I didn’t know whether I had to acknowledge the Jewishness of anyone Jewish and maybe for a moment I even formed a bad perception of Jewish people…I thought, oh I see how the nepotism works in this town. If you’re not Jewish, you’re a goy (Subtext: dirty white person) and you’re out…and if you’re getting close to being let into any type of business transaction where Jews dominate, they’ll label you an Anti-Semite and blacklist you. Funnily enough, we reconciled. He said, he talked to the doctor writing partner who said, “Do you REALLY think Eva is an Anti-Semite?” And he responded, “No.” I guess we concluded we had a Harold and Maude type friendship and weird shiz happens sometimes. Really, I had been somewhat of a recluse when I lived in Lake Arrowhead and I had lost the ability to connect with people, so I submitted to a continuation of the friendship Stockholm Syndrome style. But the man was a character…and as a former journalist, I have a copious curiosity about all sorts of people who reside in this world…and he was an interesting man (read: character study).
The irony is…that after all this had passed, I ended up with a Jewish fiancé and converted to Judaism…and in a way converting was very cathartic for me. I also realized this Jewish attorney that I had worked for wasn’t even that Jewish. He was Jewish by blood, but he didn’t lead a Jewish life. He didn’t keep kosher, he didn’t observe Shabbat. And by not eating kosher, I mean he loved lobster and he’d eat scallops wrapped in bacon (yeah I know, I don’t know if the not eating pork is an excessive rule, but it shows discipline and even Jews who don’t keep kosher usually abstain from pork). He had some noble characteristics of course…and in a selfish way (more for credit, then merit) he would help people and do good deeds (he always tipped well and occasionally gave money to homeless peeps). I ate in every 5-star restaurant in Santa Monica when I worked for him. There were perks to the friendship, even though the end goal of producing any kind of movie or succeeding in any type of business endeavor failed.
But if I was ever seeking some kind of resolution to what transpired with all the talk of Jewishness and AntiSemitism, then I guess converting was it. He never really spoke to me much after I revealed I had converted. Maybe he was embarrassed. It’s like that was the worst thing I could’ve done in retaliation…or rather the best thing for the right reasons and it also dispelled the myths of what it is to be Jewish for me. Can you be a Jewish AntiSemite? Maybe. According to the attorney, Woody Allen was also an Anti-Semite. The thing is when I was labeled an Anti-Semite and of course I had no ill will towards anyone — Jewish, Black or rainbow colored. It’s not in my nature (I’m a Pacifist), but I became angry…and I thought, maybe I don’t mesh well with “the Jews.” This negative experience, put a bad taste in my mouth. In hindsight, not to categorize, but this attorney was what I would call a “Hollywood Jew,” — all hype, lacking authenticity. I have met many Jews – hasidic, Israeli Jews (when I was in Israel), Rabbis — and they are the kindest, most hospitable people that I know (99.9% of Jews I’ve met). Of course there are examples of Jews who were not good people (Madoff), but if you look at the ratio of how many regular white people commit crimes or do horrendous acts…I’m pretty sure the Jewish ratio is far lower.
BUT recently, real acts of Anti-Semitism have taken place – Paris, Copenhagen. This is what REAL Antisemitism is — hostility and prejudice against Jews. You can view it for yourself in this video in Paris, a guy walking around in Jewish attire gets insulted from every angle. And of course let’s not forget the biggest act of Anti-Semitism — The Holocaust (which ended the lives of 6 million Jewish people).
I don’t understand it. Judaism is based on Tikkun Olam (a call to heal and improve the world). Why target people who are trying to make the world a better place? Judaism also centers much on God and education…and really there’s nothing twisted or negative in the religion at all. It’s quite perfectly all based on logic. If anything I think the world could learn something from the Jews (here’s a good one for the girls: Jewish men are less likely to cheat because there is much value placed on family and they live by a moral ethical code).
I wonder is Anti-Semitism based on jealousy or a lack of understanding, maybe? Perhaps, if there was more general knowledge about what Judaism is, we could lessen acts of Anti-Semitism? I live in a largely populated Hasidic neighborhood and about a month ago, I noticed the Synagogue on the corner of my street had been desecrated with graffiti.
What is that supposed to be? The McDonald’s golden arches. Why? It makes me so sad. The Hasidic Jews in my neighborhood are so respectable. Yes, they look a bit different because of how they dress, but they keep to themselves, they don’t bother anyone. You never hear of a Hasidic person responsible for some terrible crime. Not to mention they keep the neighborhood very safe (and LA has a huge drug culture).
Are we still that primitive that we can’t accept others because they look different? You can be a hipster, you can wear garbage bags and no one would care, but these people are clean, presentable. If anything, I find Hasidic attire very artful. Not to mention, these people are kind and loving and generous. I walked into the Mitzvah Bookstore on Beverly Blvd before I converted and the Hasidic man working there was so welcoming and hospitable. He commended me on converting (he also tried to persuade me to do an Orthodox conversion. I’m a little too unconventional to fully commit to one particular style, not to mention 2 years of being separated from my fiance to prove I’m converting for God and not a man) and he also invited me to Shabbat dinner with his family. He was so jolly and joyful (he was like Santa Claus, but Jewish) and he was willing to bring me (a stranger he knew for 10 minutes) into his home.
Jews don’t even comprise a large population of the world, they’re a minority. Here are the stats: approx 15 million Jews in the world, comprising less than 0.2 percent of the world’s population.
Maybe sometimes the word Anti-Semitism gets tossed around in situations that are not applicable, maybe there’s also a paranoia surrounding it (definitely a sensitivity), but ultimately Judaism needs some better PR to clarify some things…and I’m willing to do it! I’m an objective party. I’ve been non-Jewish most my life and I now work for a Rabbi and am fully committed to being Jewish…and if I ever have children they will be raised in a Jewish household. The Rabbi who I’m working with these days, said to me (given all the recent acts of Anti-Semitism), “Are you sure you still want to be Jewish?” Yes. I Do.