… Real Jews didn’t have to wait until Passover was over to eat their robin’s eggs, because real Jews didn’t get robin’s eggs. I couldn’t undo the reality of my antecedents, and so instead I just tried to censor out all the non-Jewish parts of my identity as I proceeded through college and into the adult world.…
… I’ve met other half-Jews, not to mention half-Arabs, half-blacks, half-Italians, half-southerners, bisexuals — all manner of people who’ve accepted their hybrid selves, accepted their mixed identities. And it has made me feel more myself. Meeting other people who’ve resisted the impulse to deny either half of themselves has made me feel better, less alone.
Whereas before I thought that everyone else in the world had a real cultural identity, and I just had this muddled mixture, now I realize that I was born into myself too, but that the self I was born into was not yet named. And so I began to claim my half-ness.
Yesterday I called my dad — who now keeps a strictly kosher kitchen and sometimes attends an Orthodox synagogue — to confess to him that I’m trying to figure out some kosher-for-Passover Easter recipes. Because last fall I gave birth to my first child — a son — and I’m aware that the burden of choice is now sitting heavy on my intermarried shoulders. (My husband was raised Catholic.) Because I don’t want my son to have to sort out his candy.…
… [A]s much as my father comes close to understanding, he’s not a half-Jew. He’s not conflicted in quite the way I am. He didn’t get teased at Hebrew school, and so he never knew, when he packed me off to learn my letters, what I might be heading into.
But after I got off the phone with him, I realized that there is something that makes me feel better, eases the conflict. And that’s the simple fact that Mose — my son — will have a mother who was born into the same complicated religious identity he’s got. I realized that I’m the bridge — between a made-up culture and a tradition.
However much Mose will be a child of intermarriage, my son is the second generation of that trend, so there will be a tradition for him to follow, some kind of history in place, complete with pastel-colored matzo-toffee.
And that’s an identity, however new it may be.