Archive for June, 2006

Ba’al Tshuva Ji-Hoea

I was born to a goy. Probably a Christian woman, but I can't be too sure. I wear her face, I am sure, but otherwise, we are worlds apart. At 8 months, I was adopted by two Jews, who were mature, but in search of themselves and balance within their spirituality. One became my father and the other, my mother.

My father was born in a refugee camp after the Holocaust in Austria. He was named Ami'Chai at birth – which means, "My People Are Alive." His birth was a new hope that life would go on for two shaken people with nothing left but their identity. While their remaining family and new found friends left the refugee camp for Eretz Yisroel, Ami and his family came to Ellis Island – where he would be renamed "Alex" by the officer who let them in.

I was named Ji-Hoea at birth and was renamed Julia – by the man who's own name had been tampered with as well.

Alex was raised in a family of a Kohen. His own father, Daveed, had been the son of the shetel Rebbe before the fire. He had lost his first wife and three children in this hell which he later never spoke of. Ami … rather, Alex… was his new hope. So, when the local Hasidic Yeshiva volunteered to take Alex in as a charity case – he declined, and insisited on paying. They slept on the floor for 3 years in a shared apartment in what is today, Spanish Harlem – so that they could pay for his schooling. Public school would be an injustice for a frum boy of the Kohen bloodline.

Bloodline. Daveed and Manya would look at that little boy who they were giving the world to. His identity was clear. Jewish by bloodline. This sense of pride from something they thought they could see. A Jewish soul is one to be treated differently. One that craves the Shabbos, nurishes from Kashruit, and soothes from Torah.

Is a soul found in a bloodline? Is it there at birth? And does it alter in the Mikvah?

When Alex left Yeshiva and started university, his parents were so filled with naches that it's incredible they did not explode. They had given this boy everything they dreamed and he was ready. But, they were not prepared when the now mature Ben Daveed came home on Winter break and had trimmed his payos and tucked them behind his ears and traded his tailored pants and jacket for bell-bottom jeans and a flannel shirt. Still, they were certain it would work out. Afterall, he cannot change who he is – the Jewish blood that runs through his body. The Jewish soul that would bring him back.

Ben Daveed met Judy and they moved to Washington together where he was writing his PhD dissertation and taking the Bar exam. Before the wedding! Gasp! Manya had fainting spells from the horror of the situation, while Daveed reassured her – his soul and his blood would bring him back.

Alex and Judy married – in a frum wedding – to which Judy's family ("secular" Jews) laughed at the "silliness" they were witnessing. Judy became Alex's world and together they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Sara Rachael. A strong Jewish name, Jewish blood, Jewish soul. Sara fast became Manya and Daveed's reason to carry on. Their little princess would sing to them songs in Yiddish and wish Bubbe and Zadde a "Gut Shabbos!"

Three years later something wrong was happening. Judy, broken by miscarriage and infertility felt rejected and dismissed by Hashem. She reverted back to her secular culture for answers more concrete than the frum world was giving her. It was then that she read an article about a woman who's life was saved from the dispair of infertility by a tiny oriential baby that was orphaned. It was the answer Judy wanted and Alex wanted to save his family by pleasing his queen.

Alex wanted a son – but he insisted that they only pay for a girl – for how would he explain that a Kohen has a Bar Ba'al Tshuva?!

When I arrived, Bubbe and Zadde had not been pre-warned. "We spoke to the Rav, Emah. It's ok – she will be a Ba'al Tshuva," he told them. And so the tiny flat-faced baby, to which Judy had grown attached and to whom she felt had already healed her infertile wounds, was dunked in the mikvah and emerged a Ba'al Tshuva.

And as Alex stood outside waiting for his queen and their flat-faced band-aide to be done …  he was wondering what happened to Ami'Chai.

June 12, 2006 at 10:33 am 3 comments

Chinky Eyes

ChinkyEye.jpg

The president of KSA (Korean Student Association – not the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has narrow eyes. "Otherwise he is so cute," Sung-he once said to me. "It's a shame," she said.

It wasn't until college that I found out my eyes are not that chinky. Growing up with white people, I always thought my eyes were pretty narrow. The Koreans beg to differ.

Joon (FOB – "Fresh off the Boat" or "Fresh off Boeing" – Sung-he's boyfriend) hates Mr. KSA President. He's an arrogant fool (I agree). A 2.5 Korean (born and raised in the states to Korean parents) – he doesn't speak any Korean, but he eats kimchi and drives his rice rocket around town with a Korean CD hanging from the rear-view mirror. One day, it all went down in the student union … the FOB and the 2.5.

Joon: "Are you sleep?"

President: "what?"

Joon: "Your eyes, they open or sleep? I don't know."

President: "F*&^% You!"

And there were slaps and punches. And it all went down. The FOB and the 2.5 and the K+ (adoptee) looking on.

Chinky eyes are such a hot topic.

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June 6, 2006 at 9:58 am 3 comments


Julia’s Jam

It’s just not that black & white. Not because I am taking a stand against. Just because, the issues I face are somewhere in the grey area and to weed through them, I blog. I blog. ~

Glimpse of Julia

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