Strangers and Friends

by Emunah

I enter the Synagogue amidst friendly stares
I grab my siddur and nobody cares.
Shabbat Shalom I hear after service has ended
The feeling of being graciously greeted is splendid.
How are you today do you live around here?
Or are you visiting family and friends who stay near? 
I answer with ease, no nervous anticipation
No dreading the questions that brings about complete mood deflation
We enjoy Kiddush, a lite brunch and some laughs
I feel so at home an integral part of the class.
This is my family
No need for the 3rd degree
We are of the same lineage, the same pedigree.
Several friendly faces invite us for Shabbat
Wholeheartedly we are welcomed as part of the flock.
The comfort I feel here has no bounds.
The most beautiful feeling of fellow Jews around.
Love and respect is what we have for one another
Always respectful never interrogating each other.
*But this–for some–is where the fairytale ends*
What are the real actions of strangers and friends?
For the beginning lines are pure fantasy
In reality the entire collective is not treated as”we”.
As a Jewess of color it’s quite hit or miss
My days are full of “innocent” inquisitiveness.
Some stares, some whispers, and many a query
Some of my fellow American Jews leave me quite leery.
Do you ask every Jew you meet how they are a Jew?
Yet somehow it’s preposterous of someone to ask you.
Within 5 min of meeting someone new
Do you say ” so is your mom Jewish too”?
Or maybe you think you know us quite well
So you assume and jump to “How did you discover Judaism?… Please tell”.
Oh, when did I first hear about Judaism you inquire?
Oh… the patience dealing with your type doth require.
I get that you’re curious, always one to ask
But don’t mistake me for a teacher; the space around me is not my class.
I actually don’t like being interviewed
While carrying out my Torah tasks.
I’m not always up for opening your eyes
Yes, Jews come in more than one color, shape and size.
So, when you meet someone different than your view of a Jew
Please let the intro of this poem guide you.

Emunah is an Orthodox Jew, attorney, poet, and former police officer. In her spare time she teaches high school girls English at a religious school in Israel and writes about her life as a Sephardi Jew. She currently resides in Zichron Yaakov with her husband and four children.

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