Community · Culture clashes

Coming Out

It is always very strange when I am in company of others who don’t know that I didn’t convert.  Especially when the conversation revolves around the Jewish community and people who look different.

Yes, I have experienced a lot of unpleasentness, exoticism, favors, etc. because of my “different” looks (than the average Ashkenazi Jew), but I don’t share the experience of having had to shed an identity or a part of myself or having to go through any Judaism classes because of my choice to “become a Jew.”

I always feel ill at ease when this is not clear. I feel that I am deceiving the conversation partner, especially when this person had “chosen” Judaism. When it is someone who is “born” Jewish and looks stereo-typically Ashkenazi and wrongly assumes that I chose to be Jewish, I am insulted and indignent that the presence of people like me–those of us who are “born” Jewish, but don’t have stereo-typical appearences–are not known more widely.

So when the conversation revolves around being a “different” kind of Jew with someone who converted, I end up fishing for an opportunity to come out as non-convert. Because we often share many experiences in common, it’s quite a strange thing. I also feel like it can be somewhat obnoxious–although, this comes from having been in strange situations where the conversation was being led astray because I didn’t come out clear from the beginning.  Weird.

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