Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy Chanukah

It is the season of Chanukah. For the first time in many years, the holidays of Christmas and Chanukah fell on the same day this year. I am drinking my morning coffee out of a very ample mug decorated with the Star of David, symbol of Judiasm.

My lineage contains some Jewish history. My grandfather, on my paternal side, was Jewish. He lived in St. Louis, Missouri and was the owner of a nightclub. Apparently he was quite the dandy. My grandparents were divorced early in the life of my father and his sister and my grandmother moved them to southern Indiana where she opened up her own dress shop. She was raised as a Catholic, of German and English descent, and was returning to family.

My grandmother, as it turns out, was a woman well ahead of her time. She was a business owner and a divorcee, both subjects of small town gossip in her day. She would have been approaching 100 years of age if she were still alive today. She was a working woman until the age of 70 when she finally retired from office management with a small company . She always looked younger than her true age and used that fact as a way to stay in the working world. She routinely claimed to be 10 years younger than she really was and, therefore, employed.

My son requested the purchase of the mug a couple of years ago. He is blessed with a strong sense of curiousity and has studied the religions of the world since he was a young child. He buys books on the subjects and studies on his own. When he learned of his Jewish ancestry, he was fascinated and learned as much as he could. We did a make-it-yourself menorrah and he thought the whole thing was very cool. I do, too.

I was raised as a WASP, in the deep South, in the Presbyterian church. Quite boring and bland. Religions, like Judiasm, with the elaborate ceremonies and traditions are so interesting to those of us raised differently. I'm glad my son thinks so, too.


Mahala said...

Excellant :) I've always been curious about the Jewish faith. I was raised in Baptist and Presbytarian churches also, but although I haven't found any concrete Jewish "roots" in my genealogy research, there is some speculation that some of the Melungeon settlers may have been Sephardic Jews. Maybe that's why I've always felt a kinship to them.

JB said...

Wanna hear something crazy?

My mother was raised Jewish. My father was raised Christian.

My maternal grandfather was raised Jewish in an Orthodox Jewish home. He was born in Jersey but his parents were Jews who fled ROmania in 1902. My maternal grandmother was born in Manhattan, raised Catholic by her parents. HER mother was born in Sicily to Sicilian parents, her father was born in Manhattan to Italian immigrant parents.

My grandmother was Catholic but came to detest the strictness of the religion. She married her first husband who was Jewish and had my aunt, then divorced and later married my grandfather, and had my mom.

My grandmother didnt' convert to Judaism until my aunt got married in 1957 to a Jewish man. Grams wanted to convert in order to stand under the canopy.

By Jewish law isn't it passed through the mother? If that is the case, my mother isn't Jewish and neither am I.

But my mother prefers to think it is passed through the father, if that is so then she is Jewish but I would not be right? Because my father isn't Jewish.

We've also been told for years and years that we are descended from the Maccabees. Go figure.

What do you think about my situation? Confusing isn't it? No wonder I can't figure out my faith.