“Repeat after me, Sha-lom, mah ha’ inyanim.”
“ Sha-lom, mah hah-in-yah neem.”
“ Good, good. But say “yah” with more throat, like you’re spitting something up” my teachers voice growled.
I could feel my face turn a little pink, they were all staring at me, expecting me to say this unattractive hebrew word and then spit up a loogie on the table.
“ Mah- chah-in- yach neem” ew, the word sounded ugly coming from my mouth. I hate this language. It’s bold and raspy.
The language itself isn’t extremely hard to learn, but I started learning hebrew when I was 6. When I was really little my sister and I would get so excited to go to synagogue on saturdays, and put on our pretty little dresses and stand next to my dad. As my sister and I have gotten older hebrew school has gotten worse and worse. The people who belonged to the synagogue were quite interesting. The women would wear conservative clothing with obnoxiously huge hats, face caked on with makeup. The men wore suits and would be the first ones upstairs for the kiddish (Lunch). A group of women would sit at the end of the table, holding wine cups and shoving food in their faces. They had a typical Jewish lady accent, they all sounded like Fran from the show “The Nanny”. “ Ya know Mooolly, ya don’t look varry Jewish.” One of the women said to me as I walked by her. The sound of her voice made me cringe, I began to turn away slowly, but then she began to talk again so I turned back to hear what awful thing she was going to say next.
Her face was too close to mine and she smelled like alcohol. I got that a lot, I don’t look very Jewish. I look alot like my mother, who is irish-catholic. We both have light hair and blue-green eyes. My dad is Israeli and looks it, tan skin, dark hair, dark eyes. My sister got that from him.
“ Yeah, well I look alot like my mom.”
“ i’m surrrrrrre ya do, ure sista looks so botiful and Jewish.”
Wow, I wasn’t going to let myself be offended by this old drunk lady. Her voice made me cringe, so winey and nasally.
I went back into the shul and looked around. Everyone had dark hair and tan skin. I looked different. I do not look Jewish. I do not sound Jewish. It did not bother me very much. So what? I was born with blonde hair and dyed it darker every now and then. My sister looked exactly like me, just darker, longer, curlier hair and big brown eyes. When I used to dye my hair darker people used to get us confused and believed me when I said I am half Isreali. But hair dye fades and people started saying things to me in synagogue again. I didn’t like people to judge me but then again, I do not want to change for anyone and I didn’t want it to bother me. It was all extremely confusing. After studying for years I finally had my bat mitzvah, it was nothing really special; I felt extremely uncomfortable having all the attention on me. I somehow convinced my dad to let me stop going to hebrew school. My argument being that it was stressing me out to go there every saturday. My hair dye faded fast and I forgot a lot of hebrew words. Hebrew is rarely spoken in my household but my dad does call me be my hebrew name “Mishk”. Overall, I don’t like the idea of you being born into a religion. Everyone has their own different beliefs therefore it would make more sense if everyone just chose their own religions. I’m not from Isreal, my father is. Therefore, I’m not typically Isreali, so I should get to chose my religion; whatever I believe in. I thought about all of this for a while. Then I realized, religion does not really matter in my life right now, i’m only 15; i’ll find my way and fit into my own category.