Libby is from Worcester, New York. She was a Jewish American Princess when she was in her twenties. She married young and she divorced soon. At 40 she made a change for the better, she said. She became a Bal Chuva, decided to move to Jerusalem and, following in the footsteps of her oldest daughter who married and orthodox man, she too put a techel on her head and started observing Shabbat.
“There is no questions in my mind that my decision was for the better,” said Libby who I met in the square near the Hurva in the middle of the Jewish Orthodox neighborhood of the Kotel. “It is a very hard life do not get me wrong, but it is the only way I could keep my Jewish traditions intact and to also show my kids how to be a better Jew.”
The wind picks-up and Libby almost loses her hat. Our discassion take a life on its own, by the time we look at the watch it has already been one hour. She has told me about her second divorce and opened up to me about the fear she had living in the US that her son and daughter may not have found their companions if she would not have turned into following her Jewish roots closer like she did.
“America is full of single girls who are unhappy and child-less,” said Libby. “I did not want this for my children, I wanted them to know better and to find the joy of having children. These days it’s not so easy to find a good, Jewish husband. Marrying into a goym is a waist of religious tradition.”
Wow…I look at her and ask her what is wrong with mix-marriage. I tell her the story of my mother, who was not born Jewish, which makes me really “not a REAL JEW,” even if I feel very close to my identity. I tell her, one does not need to be orthodox to be spiritual, let alone Jewish to be in touch with herself and be elevated to a different level of binah.
“A Jewish soul is higher. It gets to a higher level of spirituality than a gentile soul,”she said. “Our people were the only one G-d offered the Torah and we accepted it without asking what it was. This says something about the Jewish identity. We believed G-d from the beginning of time without questioning it.”
Ok, but that does not make anyone else incapable of finding their own way to spirituality and to find their own way to G-d, which ever this entity may be…
I guess the Bat Melech project I had envisioned is taking a life on its own. A deeper looking inside a Jewish woman’s identity, not only within her own community, but also within the world that surrounds her. There is what the mass may call a hint of “self-discrimination,” which is inevitable if these orthodox women want to keep their life intact and pristine. Libby still has friends in the US who are not religious and who are not even Jewish, but relating to them is too hard not.
“You do not share the same values. You can’t meet to eat with them. You can’t even go over their homes because they are not kosher for you,” she concludes.
I tell her my best friend in the whole world, the person I relate to the most is a strong believe in Christ and in his doctrine of life and she is the first supporter of my project her. I too believe to have a very strong Jewish identity, but I do not feel the necessity to show and define who is going to be sharing this with me. I let life decide for me. Like I let these women who I meet randomly on the street, decide to tell me what they believe and what they think it to be right. I think, as Libby also says, there is a reason for anything, it’s just a matter of recognizing it. Maybe the reason why I met Libby today was to reflect upon a bigger question I may not had pounder on enough until then: Why are my people so close to their owns. Why aren’t they superior and capable of mixing with other of other creeds with the same acceptance they have for their “own kind?” What is this “Jewish Identity” that take a life on its own? Did G-d really order us to be so disenchanted with other human beings or is this a human necessity that came later? Am I ok with this? I was born in a Christian country where so many people who have been part of my life for almost two decades are not Jewish and I love them beyond religion. I respect their creeds and their opinion and yet still maintain mine within my Jewish Identity, but without needed to push them aside.
Oh, well…I believe in a superior entity who is over-present in every human being’s life and I do not need to distinguish who she/he is and who she/he chooses to protect when and how. It is not a human place to define he/she. Neither is our job to define gentiles and goyms as inferiors than Jews. G-d never said so. We may have been cunnier because we choose to accept the Torah without too much questioning, but we are constantly pushing others away. We are not welcoming to others who are not “our people.”
This is pure discrimination, the same exact we suffer from for many years in the pogrom and then in the Nazi camps. I am sorry, but this is not something I can accept. I never did and never will. I am a Jew and I am happy to be one, but I am not better because of this, I am me because of this and that’s just another wonderful human being on the planet. There is not distinction that needs to be made. A Bat Melech is the Bride of G-d, she is in this case a Jew, but there are brides of G-d in every religion and in every creeds who are equally beautiful and equally respectful to the Jewish ones.
And with this, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and I take off for Tel Aviv.