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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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