Collier Meyerson was born Jewish but that hasn’t stopped someone from questioning her Judaism at any and every Jewish event, pushing her further and further away from Judaism, especially when a Judaism that others insist doesn’t and can’t include people who like her.
After it was over I began to exit the room and was stopped by the same young man that had accompanied me in the last verse.
He insisted, “You’re not Jewish, are you?”
I replied calmly, coolly “Yes, yes I am.”
He replied “But you’re not like, Jewish, Jewish, right? I mean, you don’t look Jewish.”
I walked out of the room. But not without overhearing him whisper to his friend “I mean, c’mon, give me a break, she looks Indian or something, did Sara teach her that prayer do you think?” I left the house after that. It was the first time I’d cried since the day I left my Hebrew School Teacher’s house and written off any formal tie to Judaism. It was then that I realized I was unable to remove my imaginary cloak. The cloak, the performance of Judaism, turned out to be a projection of real desire to feel accepted. I realized I the liberal isolation I had grown up with was not a reflection of race in America and if I wanted to be Jewish I had to make a concerted effort to make people accept me as such.
For more read: “OFF AND RUNNING TOWARD MY OWN IDENTITY”