Like A (Gefilte) Fish Out of (Its Jar Of Gelatinous Stuff)


Last night for work I attended a party at a home in the wealthiest suburb of Boston, which according to Forbes magazine has the 97th most expensive zip code in the United States. According to public record, the house has an estimated worth just shy of $2 million.

For 16 years I have made a living essentially asking rich (or as my boss has taught me to say, “well-resourced”) people for money for the variety of human services agencies I’ve worked for. I’m good at my job because I feel really passionate about the issues I’ve raised money for—at risk youth, the homeless, teen moms—and, I’m not afraid to ask anybody for anything.
These small events are a great and easy way to make money. Board members host at their lovely homes and invite their friends who also live in lovely homes so they can learn more about the work being done at our agency and ultimately whip out their checkbooks and give tons of money on the spot. I’ve planned about 30 of these and have been everywhere from an expansive apartment overlooking Central Park to sitting on couch cushions in a funky Park Slope townhouse, where I’m certain the hostess must have hid her hookah pipe before her guests arrived.
The picture above is the image Google came up with when I searched for WASP. I have absolutely nothing against WASPS. My best friend is the epitome of WASP. The couples at the party weren’t quite so…pink or young, and sadly there were no perfect labs there, but Boston, really because of its proud blue blood history, has a lot of people who look like this, much to their credit. And, I LOVE that woman’s dress.
Every once in a while, when I was still speaking to him, I would mention to my father some event or situation where I may have had conflict with a boss, or some other work or social conflict. The first question he would ask was “Are they Jewish?” It seemed like the most preposterous question in the world to presume that there was some rampant anti-Semitism in every interaction I had with non-Jewish people. In some cases I’ve been the first Jewish person someone has met and after that rather surprising admission I feel like they should meet another one first because I’m not exactly the poster child for Judaism. Even my first husband, a Catholic, ended up knowing more about my religion than I do.
I can’t know this for sure, but I think that most people feel most comfortable around their own. When I go to Long Island or Manhattan, I feel at home, like being there brings out the authenticity in me that isn’t the same in Boston. I have two Jewish friends here who I am very close to. When I first met the second one, we were out on our inaugural getting-to-know-you coffee, and I whispered to her, “Are you Jewish?” in the same way that people whisper about cancer. There was some instant understanding, like we belonged to a secret club. It’s just how it is.
I am very proud of who I am. People seem to learn quickly that I’m the child of a Holocaust survivor giving me some bizarro Jewish seal of approval. That being said, I wouldn’t know that tonight is Rosh Hashanah if I didn’t have Jewish friends on facebook all wishing each other a Happy New Year. I won’t go to services tomorrow or on Yom Kippur.
Of course, the people at the party were lovely and engaging. They didn’t condescend to the teenage mother who came to speak about our programs. Of COURSE I wasn’t the first Jew they had ever met. I might have been the least in shape person there, but certainly it’s not because I’m Jewish. It’s because I’m kind of a slug.
Sometimes, when I’m in a situation where the women are naturally blonde and the men are in Brooks Brothers I feel like this:
That’s my issue, and noone else’s. I am certain in SOME situations, that could be the case (as a matter of fact, with some statements said to me like “Jews are cheap, right?” and in one case, “Is it true that Jewish girls love to fuck?”) I’m reminded that maybe that is what I represent to some incredibly ignorant people, but in reality, not to the rest of my orbit.
So, to all of my delightful Jewish friends, I wish you a very Happy New Year and an easy fast.
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