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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Chandler

Are you Jewish enough?

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Good Jew vs. bad Jew? More Jewish vs. less Jewish? Growing up, I remember thinking about Judaism in these types of harmful terms. My friend who kept Kosher was more Jewish than me. A friend that had never had any formal Jewish education was less Jewish. Did you belong to a Jewish youth group? Did you go to a Jewish camp? Did you go to Monday night school? These things made you more Jewish. Did you eat bacon? Did you skip high holiday services? Well, you could chalk it up to being a bad Jew.

These archaic formulations of Judaism are always harmful, but they can be especially harmful to Jews who marry non-Jews. In some definitions, we are the bad Jews. We do not care about our Judaism. We have relegated ourselves to the bottom rung of the ladder of Judaism, those lesser Jews who are a mere slip away from losing our membership to the tribe altogether.

But this is all nonsense. There are not good Jews and bad Jews. One is not more Jewish or less Jewish. Judaism is not a competition with a big theological scoreboard tracking our Jewishness is competition with every other Jew on the planet.

Depending on your formulation, Judaism is a religion, a people, a culture, or some combination of all of these. For me, Judaism is a strand of light connecting me to God, to the world, to my family, to 6,000 years of history, to my community, and to the earth that I feel beneath my feet. These strands were not severed when I fell in love with my Catholic husband and they were not severed when I married him. If anything, through our love my love of God and attachment to my Judaism has strengthened.

When a friend first shared the link for on their Facebook page, I clicked on it. Over the next several days, I clicked again and again and again. I simply love the simplicity of the message. “Every Jew is Jewish enough.” No caveats. No explanations. Just a simple message. Every Jew is Jewish enough.

In a world full of second-guessing, gatekeeping, challenges to identity and belief, this simple statement is the antidote. Every Jew is Jewish enough. There are no good Jews or bad Jews. We are not less of a Jew or more of a Jew. We are simply Jewish. And that is enough.

Other readings on being Jewish enough:

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