I happened upon this video via Facebook. A rabbi, former BBYO friends, and a few relatives had shared it. Without having read the commentary, and not having had the time to sit and watch it, I wrote it off as just another Jewish-themed parody, not worth my immediate attention.
I was wrong.
So, as I sit here at my parent’s house watching Bye Bye Love because nothing else is on TV, I decided to give this little video — one that I was advised to start watching after the first minute — my attention.
I suppose my immediate reaction and instinct is to thank Andrew Lustig. His words, his vocal cadence, his energy — his video summed up my thoughts and reflection on being a Jew, but also on being Jewish in America.
Guilt, shame, pride — all things Jewish people have felt. Being confused by Yiddish conversation — not that you’d understand the dialogue if it were in Hebrew, either — and the varying tunes we attach to Adon Olam — I think it sounds best to the Happy Days theme song — these are all things I associate with being Jewish.
I’m not here to explain my thoughts on Kashrut, or my views on Middle East peace. But I identified most with this video when Lustig said, “I’m a Jew, not an Israeli; a religion, not a country.” That’s not to say I’m not passionate about Israel or Israeli culture.
I believe that peace is possible – across our religion and its sects, and across Israel.
I feel fortunate to have almost always lived in a community with a thriving Jewish presence. I feel a connection to Avram’s Bubbe on the popular YouTube series “Feed Me Bubbe” because she reminds me of my late grandmother, Cyrille Cooper. I go out of my way to shake the lulav and etrog on Sukkot, because it reminds me of having no choice but to do so in Hebrew school. I don’t eat meat, but if I did, I wouldn’t mix it with milk. It’s just not Kosher.
While things change everyday, my Jewish identity is my constant. I’m Jewish today, I was Jewish yesterday, and I’ll still be Jewish tomorrow.