First off, I apologise profusely for the huge gap in updates. Towards the end of the last Jewish year, a multitude of things happened in my life (getting a new job, moving cities with my OH, a severe horse riding accident amongst other things) so things have been a tad crazy of late, leaving me with very little time to write blog posts. Please be assured that this blog remains very much active, but my updates from now on will be sporadic. Hopefully some of you are still interested in my Jewish ramblings!
Since my recent move to pastures new, I have been very unfortunate in overhearing several conversations using the word “Jew” in a derogatory way. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I haven’t heard the term being used in this way before. In fact, the word “Jew” in London had become nothing short of a playground insult for some people – even amongst full grown adults who should know better. Just twenty minutes ago, I overheard someone say to his friend, who had obviously just paid for his coffee but had not given him enough change, say “don’t try to Jew me”. In this context, it is an insult – and its implications are damaging. Whether these people are aware or not, using the word “Jew” in this context has strong antisemitic origins. Implying that we, as Jews, are out to short-change or rip off gentiles.
This is, of course, totally untrue. There are good and bad people everywhere and it makes no difference whatever what origins they have. But it still shocks me how much this turn of phrase and similar ones have taken hold and have now become favoured insults.
Even in a big city like London, which is well known for its cosmopolitan population, and its vast and colourful Jewish community (with 266,740 people listing their religion as Jewish in the capital alone), we are not immune to anti-Jewish sentiment. I was born and raised in London for the majority of my life, and it is only recently that I have begun to notice this shift in language. Why has this suddenly become okay? Is it simply because so-called “casual” antisemitism has now become more socially acceptable? Or is it simply because people do not think of the origins before opening their mouths?
Of course, we as Jews use the term interchangably throughout our lives. I am a Jew and I consider myself one. Being a Jew means it is who you are as a person, while being Jewish implies that you have a Jewish background, practicing or otherwise, or are culturally Jewish. At least to me, it does. It may of course mean something completely different to other Jews. I have always considered myself both a Jew and Jewish, regardless of my convert status.
We all know that as converts, we are considered a Jew as soon as we exit the mikvah. Though I have heard of some Jews considering themselves as Jewish, but not a Jew.
What does being a Jew mean to you? Do you consider yourself Jewish, a Jew, or both? I’d love to hear your views.
Also, a very belated Shana Tovah to all my fellow Jewish bloggers!