A few months ago, I got a call from my mom, a university professor, who had a student she described as “extremely androgynous with a unisex name.” She didn’t know how to address this student using a pronoun and asked me: “What should I do? What should I say?” I didn’t have a good answer.
Last week’s New York Times article “Journey from a Chinese Orphanage to a Jewish Rite of Passage” got me thinking more about the complexities of reconciling an adoptive Jewish identity with a non-Jewish biological heritage. The article follows the story of a Chinese girl named Cece adopted by a lesbian couple in the early 1990s when China first opened its doors to international adoption. About three weeks ago, Cece became a Bat Mitvah, one of the first Chinese adoptees of her cohort to do so.
Yesterday after work, I went on a search for a birthday gift for a 16-year-old girl. After looking at some books, crafts, scarves and jewelry (from the Fair Trade stores in town), I decided to take a peek in the GAP. Right in the entry way of the store, front and center, was a stand (accompanied by a large sign) displaying the GAP's newest khaki merchandise: "boyfriend trousers" and "tailored boyfriend". Both kinds of "boyfriends" are rather baggy, heavily starched, and seem to ride the hips of the models lucky enough to have them.
From bagels and lox to black-hats, Judaism comes in all different brands, styles, and colors. In the U.S., where we are fortunate to have religious choice, there is a rich diversity of Jewish life and Jewish practice; something to please almost everyone.
This week, I attended a conference sponsored by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture on young adults, culture, and Jewish engagement. The conference was based on their study Cultural Events and Jewish Identities on the social and cultural fusion of young unaffiliated Jews ages 25-35 in New York City.
As a young engaged Jew who falls on the fringe of the young adults defined by the study (I’m only 23), I was intrigued to find out more about the report.
My daughter Risa is turning two next week. When my mother, a Jewish feminist who went to law school at age 40, asked me to accompany her to a toy store to pick a gift, I agreed. She asked me what Risa enjoyed most these days, and I admitted “dress-up.”