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A New, Gentiler Perspective

Before continuing with the narrative, I'd like to reflect a bit on what had just happened. I had grown up believing I was Jewish. I had often done a show and tell about Judaism in school, usually around Chanuka time. The teachers made a point of allowing me to work on "winter holiday" projects according to my (ie, the Jewish) calendar. I always knew I would only marry a Jewish girl and rear a Jewish family. I now had my children enrolled in a Jewish school and going to an authentic, Orthodox Jewish synagogue. And now I wasn't Jewish. I didn't buy into the whole "only the orthodox won't accept you" nonsense. I had grown up believing I was Jewish and being proud of being Jewish and making a point of letting others know that I was Jewish. And now I wasn't Jewish.

It goes without saying that this was a blow to how I viewed myself and who I was. That, in fact, is an issue with which I struggle even now. But this was absolutely the death knell to the uneasy compromise regarding how much and what kind of Judaism my wife and I incorporated into our lives. Up till this point, we were Jews were doing more now than before; so matter what we did it was a net positive. Now that I wasn't Jewish, however, it was either do everything (to merit being able to become Jewish), or... remain a goy. Less than everything was now nothing. That meant, of course, that "staying the course" was not an option. Moreover, it put enormous pressure on my wife; for while I was the one who was not Jewish, she had the final say in whether or not I could become Jewish. (Breaking up the family was not, Baruch HaShem, an option that either of us ever considered.)

Ze lo fair, as we say in modern hebrew.

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