Tuesday, October 5, 2010

From Jew-ish to Jewish

I've always been a bit marginal as a Jewess. Like Steve Martin in The Jerk, I didn't find out I was Jewish until I moved from rural Los Altos Hills to New York City when I was 25 and discovered that my maternal relatives in Manhattan ate in Chinese restaurants on Christmas. Now it turns out that it is not only my mother's family that is Jewish but my father's too. Last night at dinner he told me that his mother's father had emigrated from Germany to America, changing his surname from Kleinbaum to Smallwood in transit. Of course, that wouldn't actually make me more Jewish, since Jewishness travels through the female line, so even my father's mother was merely Jew-ish, since her mother was a shiksa. Still, it makes me want to hang fortune cookies on the Christmas tree this year.

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