Thursday, November 8, 2007
Thinking 'Bout Jew
From December 17-27, I’ll be in Israel. I’m Jewish, and when I found out that I could go there for free if you’re a Jew between the ages of 18-26, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. It’s called a Birthright trip, and although I’m not a big Jew, in terms of observing the religion and its holidays, I know when to take advantage of a good thing.
Feel free to insert your own joke there.
In middle school and much of high school, I was slightly ashamed of being Jewish because I was one of about 3 or 4 students in the whole school who could be considered the “Chosen People.” But at that time, I didn’t feel so chosen, and would hear anti-Semitic remarks (although they were slightly innocent, if that makes sense) every so often.
But as I got older, I realized how stupid these people making fun of me where, and that I shouldn’t be ashamed. I actually became proud of my religion—although I would never go so far as to say that I’m a “good” Jew.
Originally, my main interest in going to Israel was to travel abroad for the first time in my life…for free. And while that’s still a huge reason, I’ve begun to realize how important this adventure, to borrow Nadia’s word, could be for me.
While I’m not expecting to become an uber-Jew (for lack of a better phrase, and I actually don’t want to become one either), I am hoping to get a better feel for my religion and of its Holy Land.
I’ll be visiting many of the country’s holy sites, while also observing the Shabbat—something that I’ve never really done before, outside of one summer at Jew Camp at the Jewish Community Center.
Sachlav, the group I’m going with, has planned trips through Jerusalem, Tsfat, Tel Chai, Tel Aviv and Eilat, among others, while also visiting the Wailing Wall, Red Sea and the Dead Sea, hiking Mt. Tsfachot and the Arbel and partaking in a disco cruise (!) on the Kinneret.
Another highlight is going to be traveling with an Israeli soldier. I’m looking forward to this because I’m planning to write about my trip for this blog, the New School’s newspaper and possibly even the Brooklyn Rail if I gather enough courage to write for them, and interviewing a soldier would make a great story.
But it’s not all about getting a story; it’s more about being away for 10 days and learning more about a culture that I should know more about already. And until December 17 comes, I’ll be counting down the days.
Until then, I can take pride in my heritage looking at all the Jewish musicians out there. Not all of them are great (as you’ll soon see), many have changed their names to something less-Jewy and even more are only, like myself, half-Jewish (to quote Groucho Marx, “Being only half-Jewish, I promise to get into the swimming pool only up to my waist”), but we’ve got one thing in common: we’re not Catholic.
Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan)
Lewis Allen Reed (Lou Reed)
Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles)
Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies)
Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz (Beastie Boys)
Beck Hansen (Beck)
Michael Bloomfield (Paul Butterfield Blues Band)
Mark Feld (Marc Bolan, T. Rex)
Michael Bolotin (Michael Bolton)
Michael Jones (Mick Jones of The Clash)
Samuel Davis Jr. (Sammy Davis Jr.)
Ellen Naomi Cohen (Mama Cass Elliot)
Art Garfunkel (Simon & Garfunkel)
Mickey Hart (The Grateful Dead)
Richard Meyers (Richard Hell)
Janis Eddy Fink (Janis Ian)
William Martin Joel (Billy Joel)
Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group)
Chaim Witz (Gene Simmons of Kiss)
Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)
Alan Peter Kuperschmidt (Al Kooper)
Barry Alan Pincus (Barry Manilow)
Sylvain Mizrahi (Sylvain Sylvain of New York Dolls)
Randall Stuart Newman (Randy Newman)
Philip Ochs (Phil Ochs)
Stan Lynch, Howie Epstein (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon (Phish)
Jeffrey Hymen (Joey Ramone)
Jonathan Richman (Modern Lovers)
David Lee Roth (of Van Halen)
Saul Hudson (Slash, of Guns ‘N’ Roses)
Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney)
David Daniel Snider (Dee Snider of Twisted Sister)
Donald Fagen (Steely Dan)
Herbert Khaury (Tiny Tim)
Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo)