(This was meant to be a review, but the book was too good and I read it too long ago, so I went a little off-topic and mostly talked about my own experiences. 😉)
I’ve always known I was Jewish (on my mom’s side, so technically completely Jewish–it’s cool like that), and I’ve grown up with more of the traditions and culture than your average person.
But in the last three years it’s meant a lot more to me. I discovered it would be possible for me to immigrate to Israel if I wanted. I learned more Yiddish words, and we celebrated Chanukah again for the first time in a while. I grew concerned with ideological threats to Israel and have started keeping track of their news. I even research our Ashkenazi genetics for fun because they’re pretty weird. 😂
In all of this, it’s actually become harder to read Jewish books. The Holocaust, aka the main topic of all our books for some good reasons, has become more personal and yet not… We already lived in the US, we didn’t lose anyone close that I know of, and all our backstories are pretty average.
I feel a connection to Israel, to the Jews lost or forever changed by the Holocaust, to the holidays and history and working hand of God, but it feels presumptuous to allow myself this. It’s hard to fit in anywhere, so I carefully walk a line between loving and ignoring this heritage.
Broken Strings by Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer is one of the few books that has made me feel most at home. It’s a story not focused (for once) solely on WW2 or the Exodus or the other handful of topics Jewish characters get. The main character is an American Jew learning more about her complicated heritage (sound familiar? 😉) while getting to rehearse a school play of The Fiddler on the Roof (a.k.a. the greatest piece of Jewish media of all time and a huge favorite of some relatives I never got to meet). Let’s just say my nerd heart was happy, and I enjoyed the quiet, natural discussions of healing, diversity, and loving all people. Truly satisfying.