I have a strange relationship with Judaism. Both my parents are Jewish, although neither attended much "shul" in their later life.
I consider myself no more Jewish that I am Bhai, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, or Agnostic. Love them all equally.
Am I Jewish? I'm not sure that I know.
I don't fret over Israel. It seems sad to keep killing over that arid bit of land. And I have no desire to go there. I consider the entire planet to be "Holy," not just the "Holy Land." I also feel no need to go anywhere where the moment I step off the plane people want to kill me because I am an American.
I have plenty of people that hate me right here in South Carolina. There's no need to travel.
And yet, I realize that I am a cultural Jew. I am in a constant state of making matzoh ball soup for friends both Jew and gentile. My versions may be tomato vegetable- or tuna-based, but it is still matzoh ball soup. And there's no denying this is very Jewish.
I light Jewish memorial candles on the anniversary of my father's death. I know when it is and mentally celebrate every Jewish holiday even if I do not make it to synagogue.
I certainly observe Yom Kippur, a day of fasting and silent meditation and prayer on how to be a better person in the coming year. Frankly, I like an occasional day of fasting and there is never a bad time to reflect on gratitude and how to be a better person. It keeps me from slapping annoying people.
I take pride in successful Jewish people and reprimand the occasional Jew who embarrasses me. I once remember telling a shallow, penny-pinching Jewish guy about my age to shape up because he was "the root of anti-Semitism." I also believe that I offered to kick his ass — the only such offer I have ever made in my adult life.
I remember years ago reading that some group had named the four most influential people of the first half of the 20th century and they were: Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein.
Three out of the four are Jewish and I felt a certain pride.
The second half of the 20th century has not been so kind, as I can't think of Jews who have had this same impact on politics, behavior, and science. In fact, the famous Jews of late who jump to mind are: Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, and Hugh Hefner.
A wannabe pornographer, a germophobe, and an actual pornographer. Funny how much can change in 50 years.
Actually, I did not know that Hugh Hefner was Jewish until just the other day. My highly religious brother-in-law gave me this fact as I was going on about how we treat Hugh Hefner like he is some sort of American Founding Father. To my way of thought, Hugh Hefner is just a sad, geriatric pornographer ... not George Washington.
Hugh Hefner, Jewish? This is the straw that breaks my camel toe and back. It doesn't bother me that Hugh Hefner is a pornographer. It's just that he is so completely unimaginative. Playboy magazine circa 2007 looks exactly like Playboy circa 1977. No new material, same layout, same airbrushing, the same tired "jokes." Plus, Hef seems like a sad old coot to me.
Every time I see Hugh Hefner, I am not envious; I feel sorry for him. Get dressed, old man, you look dopey in a bathrobe. And for the sake of all people, close that bathrobe. Don't make me call one of your attendants — I mean girlfriends.
And Hef, man to man, your "girlfriends" are pitiful. Their peroxide jobs are bad and even I would need Viagra if one of these broads ended up in my bed. Sorry. No admiration here, Hef.
You think I'm kidding? Give me the phone numbers of all of your "Girls Next Door," I won't call one. Nothing turns me on more than a woman with a GED, and I'd imagine that none of your ladyfriends have reached that level of education.
Kafka had a nightmare that he woke up as a cockroach; my nightmare would be to wake up as Hugh Hefner.
I'm not anti-Semitic, but I just can't take Judaism any more. If Hugh Hefner is in, I'm out. If you need me, I'll be in a mosque.