I am not a very good Jew
I never fast,
I eat carnitas during Yom Kippur,
Haven’t been to Synagogue
since Dad passed.
I guess it just doesn’t seem very Holy
I am not a very good Jew,
couldn’t tell you details from the Old Testament.
just know Moses did…stuff, there was a burning bush
and red sea, and God said…something,
I don’t know.
Never paid much attention to the details of religion.
Was too busy dancing on my father’s feet,
listening to Dylan and Coltrane
and seeing God whenever he smiled at me.
When I asked my parents,
“What happens after we die?”
They said, “Nobody really knows.”
So I spent the next years with the understanding
that all religions were trying to answer
that same question, that universal fear
that every human has.
I understood not everyone is okay
with this uncertainty.
When my parents asked if I was interested in being Bat Mitzvah’d
and I realized that cool party meant
every Sunday learning Hebrew,
Dad said, “That’s fine. It’s expensive anyway.”
For us, being Jewish was never a set of rules. It wasn’t knowing how to read the Torah or getting the proper phlegm in the back of my throat when I said,
It was my dad and me. It was watching Curb Your Enthusiasm or
joking about our shared worrying. It was knowing
one prayer that I would proudly sing at Hanukkah
and telling anyone who asked what church I went to
that I was Jewish, so, I didn’t.
My identity has never been written in stone.
It was written in my father’s face,
how I have his exact smile
and crooked teeth.
It’s in matzo ball soup and a love of oddball comedies.
I’m messy, just like my dad. My clothes end up in piles
and my ideas spill out over the edges.
I am him in both the good and the disorganized.
His roots are my roots,
even if his aren’t tangible anymore.
A tree is still a tree even if the seed that planted it
is no longer around.