Your Brain is Green
Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance. You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver. You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns. You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Are You SURE You're Bluish? (part 1)

Prepare to be very confused. The title above comes from "Yellow Submarine", the Beatles' animated feature where they confront the Blue Meanies, and at one point the Blue Meany leader asks them querulously "Are you sure you're Bluish? You don't look Bluish..."

Shades of an old Jewish joke. But this isn't funny: see "Glad tidings for the lepers" in today's Haaretz.

And I think it's time to tell my own story.

First, some background. My mother was born to a Jewish family that left Russia in 1905 for the Lower East Side. She alone of her three siblings was born in the US. In her 20s, which was during the "Roaring Twenties", like many other young Jewish women, tried hard to obliterate all traces of her heritage. She was a "flapper"; she anglicised her name, did not date Jewish boys. When the Depression hit, she kept her job with the Veterans' Administration by moving to Washington, where she met my father.

Dad came from the Black Hills of Dakota--Sioux Indian country. Two of his grandfathers had fought against one another at Gettysburg, and the family, on his father's side, could trace its American roots to before the War of Independence. He was something of an oddball for his time and place, however: he voted Democratic, considered himself an agnostic, hated everything to do with horses and cowboys, affected an Edwardian look about 2 decades too late. His plans to become an engineer were sidetracked by the Depression, and in the mid-1930s found himself also forced to move from the Chicago branch office of the Weather Bureau to Washington, DC.

My mother, who thought Zelda Fitzgerald was simply the bee's knees, the height of exoticism, thought my Dad looked a lot like F.Scott Fitzgerald, and they fell in love. They were married in a civil ceremony, although it became obvious pretty quickly that Dad knew quite a bit more than Mom did about Judaism, he had no desire to convert. In fact, my mother's family accepted him much more warmly, in that day and age when intermarriage was a major crime, than was usual.

In due course, I arrived, but I was not told I was Jewish until I was 7. I then had 4, very disorienting, years of cheder. Shortly after refusing to go to Hebrew school (the afterschool variety) any more, Leon Uris published "Exodus" and, Halleluyah! I could be Jewish without being religious.

Fast forward to my 20s. Now a registered nurse, I met a young Frenchman on holiday, and we decided to get married. He was as irreligious as my father, but nominally was Catholic. The marriage (civil) lasted 4 months before being annulled (civilly). He had married mainly to convince himself that he wasn't homosexual, and had discovered that indeed he was. I later heard, via a third party, that he had committed suicide. I don't know if that was true or not, and never bothered to investigate.

When I opened a file at the aliyah center prior to making aliyah, I told all the above story to the shaliach. He thought he was doing me a favor by noting my marital status as "widow" because it gave me a double aliyah grant. At the time, I didn't know that. I don't remember supplying any evidence of my Jewishness, by the way. The shaliach took my word for it.

Fast forward again, to 1979. My mother was terminally ill; I had met the sabra who would become DH, and we went to the US for the wedding. The ketubah, an artistic one, was actually written here, to be signed and filled in as necessary in the States. I went to the only Orthodox mikvah in the DC area, but the wedding itself was going to be performed by a Reform rabbi, who was not only a very close friend of mine, but my parents' main support (Dad had never converted, but Mom dragged him to services every Friday night) during her illness. Rabbi Lipman had a lot of experience with Israeli bureaucracy and the Israeli rabbanut, and made sure the ceremony was halachically correct.

When we got back to Israel, DH said he wanted to get an isshur nisuin--a certificate from the Israeli rabbanut--that acknowledged our marriage. And that's when the fun began. The rabbis wanted me to prove (1) my Jewishness, and (2) the Jewishness, or lack of it, of my former spouse.

(to be continued)

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