Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm Jewish!!!

Yah, you heard me right.

I'm Jewish!!!

How is it, I've managed to make it to 42 years of age and only just found this out???

I recently took part in a DNA study for Myeleoproliferative Diseases, of which Mastocytosis is one, and got back a whole bunch of DNA information about myself from my spit. Pretty amazing, actually. And one of the things I learned was that I'm of Ashkenazi Jewish descent on my Mother's side. My DNA profiling could only trace my maternal line because they need a brother, Uncle or Father sample from my family to do the paternal side of the family. This came as a HUGE shocker to all of us, who up until now, thought my Mother's family was pretty much Anglo-Saxon white bread. Turns out there's some heavy duty Eastern European blood coursing through those veins.

I burst into tears when I read the report that told me this. NOT because the report was actually telling me I was carrying the three gene markers for breast cancer and that there is an 80% chance that I will develop breast cancer before the age of 60, but that these three gene markers are specifically Ashkenazic Jewish gene markers...because it felt like this huge piece of my life's missing puzzle was neatly plopped into place. And I KNEW who I was. A peace washed over me.

I cried really hard for about 3 hours. My husband, between loving bouts of comfort, was laughing at me. "So I was right, you ARE a Jewish Princess!?!?!"...all these years, he's joked about me being one...and it turns out, I may well be one.  I cried because I was relieved, like I said, I FINALLY sort of had a sense of WHO I was/am/ARE; but more than that...I was crying because I was thinking about EVERY single time I have been treated badly by a Jewish person for being lesser of a human being than 'them'; for being a Gentile; a Goy...things I've been called by a former roommate and her friends who used to return from Synagogue a couple of nights a week to hang out at our apartment and proceed to rip said Gentiles and Goys to pieces, including me and I was present.  It was the first time in my life I experienced racial profiling and was routinely belittled for being what I was - me. Which is to say, not one of 'them'. Because that's what the world seemed to be divided into for the Jewish people I was experiencing..."THEM" and "US".  Even the two extremely successful millionaires I worked for as personal and executive assistants who were Jewish...they made sure I understood that there was "US" and "THEM" and the world was divided; one was better and we (that is to say, my kind, non-Jews) were lesser.  

I did take the time, during the course of knowing those people, to ask why they felt this way. Interesting to me was that all them shared the same response: "We are God's chosen people."

Apparently, this gives you a sense of superiority over all men and other races?

I don't know.  I can't imagine that this is ACTUALLY the case for all Jewish people.  After all, it turns out that I am one.  And I don't feel that way about human beings.  

However, I'm the first to admit, I don't know the first thing about being Jewish.  I'm eager to learn though.

And it would be wrong of me to leave you thinking that I've only been treated badly by Jewish people...that's not true. I have a lovely and dear Mastocytosis friend who is Jewish, and in one of my hours of need, she kindly and voluntarily helped me with medication that I couldn't afford at the time, and I remember thinking at the time...WOW, this wonderful woman is Jewish and is helping me and isn't treating me badly because I'm Goy or Gentile, she is just a beautiful human being and I am soooo grateful for HER (and her family.) I'm not sure even she knows how that small act of kindness helped shift what had been up until that point a VERY negative experience with pretty much every Jewish person I had encountered. But she did.  So, Julie, thank you. :)

But here I am, 42 years old and I've just found out that I'm Jewish.  It's funny but all my Jewish friends (I do have lots of Jewish friends it turns out...) all quickly wished me "Mazel Tov" and welcomed me to "The J Sisters"...and I like it. But I have to be mindful that I don't segregate the world into "them" and "us" and start enjoying belonging to a club that refused to have me as a member before now.  At the end of the day, we're all human and aren't we all made in God's image and loved by Him? Am I being too idealistic??  

I know it's not as simple as all this....I mean, there's being Jewish by blood and then there's being Jewish by faith.  I know NOTHING about being Jewish by faith, but I want to know. I have a genuine curiosity and fascination with it (and always have) and for years have wanted to go to Synagogue.  I'm not even sure how to begin though.  I have no Elders in my community to look to for answers or guidance. I have no Grandmother or Grandfather or Parents to ask in the ways and traditions of my people. When I've asked my Jewish friends to help me understand and learn about being Jewish I am politely silenced.  I may be asking the wrong people. (That's just occurred to me.)  So for now, I will use the internet and the library to learn what I can, as I can.  I guess I have another 42 years to learn what the first 42 years was missing.

And so, there you go, one more gift that Mastocytosis has given I know my genetic background and I'm Jewish.  I would NEVER have known this if I hadn't gotten this crazy disease and taken part in this DNA study...see, you just never know where life is taking you....that's one heck of a gift I tell you. It's crazy good. I'm thrilled!