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  • Writer's pictureWendalynn Wordsmith

Approriating?

I suddenly had the thought people may think I am appropriating Jewishness. As I am in the process of converting to Judaism, there are certain things I do now. Most liberal rabbis consider converts to be Jewish, and a few believe only religiously, not culturally. I practice procedures based on religion, not a specific cultural identity.


It is tough, as being Jewish can relate to both religion and ethnic identity - I get it. My ancestors were Ashkenazi, but I am geared toward more Sephardic dietary rules (I want to eat lentils and chickpeas at Passover). I am not doing this for show or to kidnap ideals and traditions. Chinese Jews incorporate their food traditions to fit Jewish customs: they are still Jewish.


This is not the same as appropriating Indigenous culture to sell products or live a lifestyle for a weekend music festival - not even close. I can choose not to go kosher, not to recognise Shabbos, or not to learn Hebrew. I was once accused of being anti-Semitic when I talked about my concerns regarding a certain Christian group adopting Jewish religious customs because Jesus was Jewish. On a far aside, Christians born in Israel are Israelis, not Jewish.


I am not asking those in the Messianic community to stop being who they are or what they believe. Actually, I do want to ask them to stop, but honestly, I cannot do that. Yom Kippur is coming up on Sunday and I need to be in the right mindset. I do wonder, though, would Jesus have recognised the day of atonement if he was a person without sin? Most Messianics can't (and don't) answer that question. Some love the party atmosphere of Purim, but completely fail to understand the significance of this celebration to the Jewish people. Jesus sometimes makes an appearance, apparently.


My grandmother (her father was Jewish, though don't tell anyone) was extremely anti-Semitic but spoke some Yiddish. I don't know how she would react. It is much like asking what Elvis would think of Jive Bunny and The Master Mixers.


We will never know.


Jews throughout history had been forced to live in ghettos, shtetls (rural ghettos, watch Fiddler On The Roof), forced to convert to Christianity, forced to convert to Islam, burned at the stake, blamed for causing the plague... Now Christians are wanting to be Christo-Jews. Now there are fish images added to menorot. Now there are Star of David pendants embedded with a cross. Now I am becoming angry.


Ever since I was thirteen I have been wanting to be Jewish. Sure, I once hand waved in prayer at church, but it felt weird. Communion makes me cringe. I will attend a church service, as community and fellowship are still important. Richard does not want to convert, his faith is strong and I would never ask him to change. I am still waiting to get into a conversion class at the synagogue. High holy days, holidays, and whole bunches of busy times have made it complicated. Richard has attended a few services with me. He does have issues with Hebrew, and I can understand.


Certain Jewish groups do not recognise conversion, which is fine. I found a group that does. I cannot be a Christian who does Shabbos or Chanukah. I do not understand why people would do that. What is the point? Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, but they do not don a yamulka on Fridays because... Jesus.


I need to find a way to get passed this. My heart is heavy due to Jews having prayer items Christianised after centuries of abuse by Christians.


This will be my first Yom Kippur as someone not watching from the visitor's bench; I want it to be less burdensome.

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