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Only People Who Grew Up Jewish Would Understand These Things

Only People Who Grew Up Jewish Would Understand These Things

I love being Jewish. I love the community, I love our history of endurance and fighting, and I love being around so many great people. It does not matter how often you go to temple or not, because being Jewish is just as much an ethnicity as it is a religion.

And there were some great things and some not so great things about growing up as a Jew. Here is a look back on quite a few of those memories.

You played Mahjong with your mother. And she beat you

Your grandmother played it. Your mother probably played it. And mahjong as of late has been making a resurgence ever since its nadir in the 70s and 80s. The clack of those Chinese tiles, and your mother screeching whenever she beat you or her friends is a memory which has lasted among Jewish families for the past century.

You had to deal with reactions to the pork thing

There are two reactions that Christians have when it comes to the rules against pork. The first is that they think it is not that important, and offer us a sizzling strip of bacon. The second is that they go in the opposite direction and go out of their way not to offer us any pork.

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The second reaction is better than the first, but there is a sizable percentage of non-observant Jews who will eat pork.

You also had to deal with their ignorance of kosher rules

Most non-Jews know that Jews do not eat pork. But I have seen non-Jews assume that this means that Jews are vegetarians – and then offer a plate of oysters as a substitute.

You cannot blame them for not knowing that shellfish is also forbidden, but it is frustrating nonetheless.

You got extra holidays

This picture pretty much sums it up.

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Those holidays were not always a good thing. It was frustrating when that dance, or your softball game, or anything like that fell on Passover. But it did give you an opportunity to get out of school for a while longer, even if it just meant that mom was dragging you to temple.

You had to deal with the Christmas-Hanukah comparison

They are not the same holiday, and while Christians can understand it, they often do not. The worst case scenario is when they assume that Hanukah is a holiday created by Jews to celebrate in the winter just like they do, and not that it is thousands of years old.

You ate Chinese food on Christmas Day

And if the Christmas comparison was not irritating enough, you had to deal with the reality that everything is closed on Christmas Day.

Except Chinese restaurants. And so just like that family in “A Christmas Story”, Christmas meant trundling off and sitting down for a Chinese meal with other Jewish families. It is a stereotype, but it is a good one.

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You had your friends tell you, “I want to be a Jew!”

This was a difficult one to react to- on one hand, it was clear that your friends were sincerely trying to be nice to you. But on the other hand, all too often that desire is rooted in Jewish stereotypes, such as the successful lawyer or the businessmen dealing in insurance claims. All you can do is smile, nod, and thank them in response.

You have to call your mom. No excuses

If you are away, you have to call your mother regularly. It does not matter if you are on a date, busy, or anywhere else. You had better call your mom, or she will attack you with the most fearsome and deadly weapon in her entire arsenal.

Guilt.

You get asked to speak “Jewish.”

Sometimes, people will remember that it is called Hebrew. Sometimes. But a lot of the time, you are expected to sound like someone from “Fiddler on the Roof”, making bizarre noises.

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Of course, if you do know Hebrew, you can use it to insult your enemies behind their backs. Because you probably did that too.

You grew up with parents who do care for you

Yes, they may nag you endlessly about being a doctor or a lawyer. Yes, they may have been overprotective when raising you.

But above all else, they do truly care for you. Even if that means that when you call them, you will have to endure 20 minutes of them asking about why you are not a doctor or a lawyer yet.

Being Jewish means being part of a terrific community, with a very different learning experience compared to most other children. And while there can be plenty of strange experiences, never mind teasing and good old anti-Semitism, there is also so much else to being part of the tribe as well.

So remember the good and bad memories, and use them to help build a better future for the Jewish generations to come.

Featured photo credit: Kristy via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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