This is a very intimate, and very important, goal for me.
I asked myself questions about my jewish heritage and, somehow, identity, for ages. I think writting down all this, and possibly interact with other people, can only make things clearer for me.
I’m jewish because my mother is. In my father’s family (though the last name comes from eastern Europe and sounds pretty jewish), maybe there’s a jew somewhere in the family tree (ages ago), but that’s all, and they don’t care.
Both of my mother’s parents are jewish. My grandmother came from Ukrainia, and my grand-grand-father from Romania.
My grand-father was the only one in his family to be atheist. He was communist all his lifetime, and fiercly atheist. During the WWII, he changed his first name from Isaac to Jacques, and didn’t shift back after the war. His last name was of course jewish, but sounded definitely plain german. He kept it. He sent his wife and their first newborn (my mother) in the Free Zone, while he kept working at the Renault factory, in occupied Paris. He always refused to put the yellow star on his clothes. Most of his siblings were deported and died. He never believed in God. He never considered himself as a jew. Or maybe, in his view, he never reduced his identity as the fact to be jew.
My grand-mother came from a very religious ukrainian family. Pretty known in the religious community, at the time. And she loved and chose this atheist.
They both raised their children with principles (coming from communism mainly : justice, equality, shareness), and atheism.
My mother knew she was a jewish, not because of religion, but because of culture (yiddish spoken at home, cook made by her mother, deaths because of the Shoah…).
She met my father. Non-jewish, plain atheist, plain communist. They raised me with love and principles.
But, during my childhood, my mother, never ever, mentionned my jewish heritage.
Though I didn’t have a religious education, my parents are people of books and culture, and I was a curious child, so I early had notions of the different religions of the world, and, living in a catholic country therefore culture, of new testament.
My jewishness came to me out of the blue, and all of the sudden.
I was eleven. I took a look to family papers. And suddenly discovered two major facts. (One, irrelevant here but hey : my parents lost a baby boy four years before I ws born). And two : my mother, therefore me, is jewish.
A few weeks later, a strange thing happened. I had faith. I believed in God. Totally, and purely. It lasted around 9 years. I respected religion as well as I could. I tried to keep Shabat. I tried to eat kosher. I became vegan to eradicate the pork and beef-and-milk problem.
All this without telling a word to my parents, fearing their reaction.
In my early 20’s, my faith progressively faded out. Now, I’m spiritually-oriented, but I can’t stand religion. Any religion. All of them. But that’s another story.
And here I am. I know I’m jewish. I feel I’m jewish. It’s a component of my identity, of my self. But I’d really like to understand, no, wait. I need to understand what makes me jewish. It’s not a religion thing. Definitely not. It’s not a culture thing (I don’t have the jewish culture, as I longly explained). So, what is it ? 7 years ago