Guilty of Jewish Guilt
I’ve never been to Israel. There, I said it. When I was a bratty teen who turned my back on all things religious, it was a point of pride. A badge that said I was too cool for exploring my encumbering heritage. Now it’s a source of embarrassment.
How could I have worked in the Jewish community for three years and not have set foot in the Holy Land? How could I be a 37-year-old woman proud of my Jewish identity and not have experienced the place Jews call home?
That’s what I thought about this weekend when a couple I went out with talked about how meaningful their individual trips to Israel were. They talked about the spiritual connection, and asked me if I’d been. Once again, I said no, feeling, above all, guilty.
So it was no surprise that I picked up a copy of "The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt" this weekend, a compilation of stories from young Jewish women surrounding their complicated feelings about being Jewish. It’s a great read if you haven’t found it already. Women just like us talk about their conflicts with dating non-Jews (“babes in goyland”), fantasies about Christmas, ignoring our Jewish education, and even traveling to Israel.
Editor Ruth Andrew Ellenson asks the questions that so many of us face: How much do we owe to our heritage? Is religion about personal fulfillment on our terms? Should it be? Each author struggles with a variation on these questions. I am left thinking that—perhaps not at this exact moment of time—I better haul my butt to the Holy Land.
What’s your Jewish guilt?
How to cite this page
Cove, Michelle. "Guilty of Jewish Guilt." 22 August 2006. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 21, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/guilt>.