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As a good Jewish boy I have to think long and hard about everything I do, for there is a deep sense of guilt that comes with every action. It is kind of like Newton’s law, for every action there is a direct and opposite wave of guilt.
Now many Jewish-boy-ologist like to offer the cause of this ebbing feeling of fault is the Jewish Mother…now that is just silly.
This weekend is Mother’s day and so in honor of this, many Jewish papers have run pieces about the “new Jewish mother” and how they are just now figuring out how to deal with work and responsibilities to their Jewish families. Pish Posh.
My mother, who is in her (very, very, very early) 50s (but looks like she is in her early 40s) has been working since before I was born. For more than two decades this woman has had major responsibilities at work and fulfilled all her motherly and Jewish motherly obligations as well. Now I am sure she has instilled a good amount of Jewish guilt into my life over the years, but come on, she is doing her job!
Every week we see tons column inches and hundreds blog posts dedicated to explain what Jewish identity is all about; we say it is Israel or the Holocaust or, to go all Sartre, anti-Semitism. These things inform our Jewish identity. This mysterious entity is created by Jewish parents and Jewish families, not experiences or countries. Jewish mothers create Jewish identity.
So blame your mother for your Jewish guilt, but also thank her for making you love Passover and helping you pack for camp and driving you home if you had too much fun at a Purim party (no matter what time in the morning) and for supporting you always (no matter how stupid you are and how ridiculous you look in the school play). It is mother’s day, so feel guilty, call your mother, and thank her for making you into a good Jewish boy and/or girl.
Happy Mothers Day Mom!