A not-very-good Jew’s thoughts about Jewish identity

When I realized that some people in Phillie’s LGBTQ+ sex grooming workshops present as Jewish, I figured I needed to think about Jewish identity.

I always tell people I’m Jewish but, as the saying goes, “it’s complicated.” I was not raised religiously at all, so I’m almost as at sea at a religious service as I would be if I weren’t Jewish at all. Nevertheless, 3/4 of my ancestors were Jewish, my father was raised in an orthodox orphanage and escaped Nazi Germany, my mom’s Jewish education was in British-mandate Palestine (i.e., nascent Israel), 90% of their friends were Jewish, we observed Passover, I follow the big Jewish moral laws and, as I said, I call myself a Jewish. I’ve also always known that if there is, God forbid, another Holocaust, the fact that I’m not religious won’t save me from the gas chambers.

These people, who clearly occupy the furthest leftist edges of the Democrat party, also identify as Jewish. In this video, you can tell she’s Jewish because she’s wearing a Star of David.

In this next video, the first woman identifies herself as a “Big Jew, so I’m into all my Jewish rituals. I’m into all my deli meats. I’m into all my morning bagels. That’s a big part of me so I feel like I had to name that.” The second speaker, a man, says he’s Jewish, which is mixed in with all sorts of other things: “white, queer, kinky, polyamorous, visibly able-bodied, Jewish, witchy, non-binary, transfem.”

Watching those videos, I feel strongly that these are seriously disturbed people according to my white, middle-class, mid-20th century American, non-religious Jewish values. But the question is: Are they really Jews?

Even if they are Jewish genetically, as I am, is there anything at all that ties them to Judaism? To me, they seem like Noam Chomsky or George Soros, by which I mean leftists who have completely abandoned the Bible and are often openly or covertly hostile to biblical principles. Some identify as Jewish out of habit or fondness for deli meats. Others, like Chomsky or Soros, make no pretense of being Jewish or caring at all about Biblical morality. To me, no matter what they say, they’re not Jewish.

As for me, do I even count as Jewish? Despite all the labels I apply to myself, I’ve never embraced any Jewish rituals other than Passover (which my parents like to celebrate). One of the core tenets of Judaism according to the Torah is observing the rituals laid out in the Torah. Am I something even within throwing distance of a Torah Jew if I just cling to the moral precepts (mostly) but don’t do anything else?

These aren’t just idle questions because the answers have real consequences in today’s world. What’s easy is that dyed-in-the-wool antisemites hate everyone, from the black-hatted orthodox “Torah” Jew to the people in the above videos. That’s unchangeable.

But what about the cultural conservatives? These are the ones who believe that, minus the Jim Crow crap, American values circa 1955 were pretty damned good and made for a livable, prosperous country. They also cannot miss the fact that people like Chomsky, Soros, and the creepy sex people in the videos are genetically Jewish and, in the case of the creepy sex people, they even boast about being Jewish. These societally destructive and often anti-American people have “Jewish” written all over them.

So, I ask you: Ultimately, how many good Americans are going to be able to keep separate those Jews who have nothing to do with morality and want to tear down everything good about America (whether because they’re Marxists, megalomaniacs, and perverts) and the other Jews, the people like me and the Torah Jews who align morally with conservatives and who love and support America?

As I said, it matters, because I don’t want to go down in the same ship with the people in those awful videos. Just because we both identify as Jewish does not mean we are not the same people in terms of any values at all (although I like good deli meat).

Because I know that all my regular blog friends are people of goodwill and intelligence, I also know that the comments here will be thoughtful and respectful. However, just in case bad people sneak in, I will monitor comments here very carefully (more than I usually do) to ensure that nothing hatefully antisemitic creeps in.