There is no question that people make assumptions about Jews. Or, really, about any group we identify ourselves as belonging to, whether they are Episcopalians, dog lovers, Pirates fans, dieters or karaoke enthusiasts.
I think it's a pretty universal human nature (someone will find a counterexample, I am sure) to put people in buckets. It's just easier. After all, otherwise we are conceivably dealing with big groups and we don't know how to relate. But the minute someone hums "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" or whatever, if we can hum along, too, we feel a kinship. Or we don't hum along, and label that person as lame or out of touch or maybe just someone with a tin ear.
As a Jew, I have found that people make certain auto assumptions about me, much of the time (not always), and in no particular order, here are a few -
- That I've been to Israel. Nope, never have.
- That I keep kosher. I don't eat pork; that much is true. But I definitely eat shrimp. I can, however, recite the kosher laws for ya if you're ever having trouble sleeping.
- That I support Israel without question. Nope, I think dumb things have been done by that government, but then again I feel that most governments commit boneheaded moves. Of course consequences vary, and some moves are considerably more egregious than others. I won't get into that debate, though.
- That I can speak Hebrew. I can read it, barely, sounding out the letters as if I were semi-literate. Do I understand what I'm reading? Maybe 1 - 5% of it.
- That I was Bat Mitzvah'd. Nope, at age 12 I was offered the choice of a Bat Mitzvah or a boy-girl party for my 13th birthday. Given how poorly I read Hebrew, I chose the latter. I think there were 2 boys at said boy-girl party and so I want a refund, dammit.
- That I celebrate all the holidays. Nope. We light candles for Chanukah and I do enjoy it. My mother sends us mandlebrot for Passover every year. It's yummy. Plus I'll probably buy a box o' matzoh. But I haven't been to a seder in years. As for the remainder of it, I mainly know there's a holiday as I follow Mayim Bialeck's Facebook page, and she mentions them usually (she's Orthodox, or close thereto). Otherwise, helfino what's happening on the calendar.
- That I automatically despise Muslims and/or Arabs. Nope, not even close. I try not to automatically love or hate anything. Except chestnuts. I love them automatically and unconditionally.