돼지의 년!

February 18, 2007 at 8:32 pm 5 comments

Well, it’s my year. Year of the pig. I could really use a favorable year, so I am pretty hopeful. 

I remember pretty clearly when I found out I was a pig. On a paper menu at the Chinese restaurant with my family. “What am I??? What am I?? Read mine!!” I begged my sister. She stumbled over word after word of my “Zodiac Personality” as I listened. Yep… sounds like me pretty much. Content, I sat back into my chair. “You’re a pig!” my sister announced again, “You’re not kosher at all!” My parents chuckled amongst themselves and then redirected the conversation to “so, how was school today?”

I remember it bothered me a bit. Being a pig. I was always grateful that living Jewishly came easy to my parents, so that they were great role models to me on how it is to be content with your Jewish identity. I had an excellent Jewish education. Raised in a Shomar Shabbos/Kosher home. Summers were spent at Zionist summer camps and in Israel visiting family. Raised speaking Hebrew and Yiddish (with my grandparents). To the people who knew my family – members of our Shul, students at my Jewish Day School (JDS), and friends from camp, my mother’s Haddasah sisters, and just about anyone in our neighborhood – I was a Jewish girl. There was no question about it.

Outside the world that was built around me, it really wasn’t that much of a challenge to prove my Jewish identity. Challenge me! I am confident that I can prove my Jewishness on many different levels. Being a pig was the last thing on that menu that I wanted to be associated with, but not because it was trayf. Maybe because they are known to be dirty, stinky, and dumb… in other words, they are often misunderstood.  I have always felt this soft tug. I knew exactly how to be comfortable in my own shoes as a Jewish female – but I knew … I know almost nothing about what it means to be a Korean female. And although I didn’t want to be a pig … I always took compliments from “you dress like a FOB” and “damn, you are such a gook!” One of the best compliments I ever got was this…

John:  you look
John: VERY korean
Jules: lol
Jules: thanks!
John: lol
John: yeah
Jules: VERY korean huh? just cause hanbok?
John: no
John: on a closer inspection
John: of your facial structure
John: you look korean as hell 

Wow! A Korean guy — saying that I look VERY Korean. That’s half the battle though – looking the part. Feeling the part is another story. So when Jewish parents whom have adopted an Asian child ask me about my Jewish identity and my comfort level with being Jewish and they share with me their concerns about how they too can raise an Asian child to be a proud Jew, I wish I could talk instead to them about what I am missing. About what my parents couldn’t teach me by their example. About what it’s like to live in my skin. Because it’s not about raising your child to feel the pride that you feel – being who you are and knowing what you know. It’s about raising your child to be what you cannot be – never will be – and know nothing about. It will come easy, teaching them to be a proud Jew (as long as you are!). The challenging part is teaching them to be proud of what you are not – Asian.

This being said, I am not suggesting that if you are Jewish and raising an Asian kid that you do not raise them Jewish. Seriously, no one wants you to go way out of the way to be what you are not. But why so much concern about raising your different race child to be the same as you religiously? That part will come easy. It’s the harder part that you may be ignoring. It’s the part that you can’t do and that will need to be done independently by your child or not at all. It’s what I resolve with myself to accomplish this year. It’s my year. Year of the pig!

새해 복 많이 받으세요!



Entry filed under: Judaism, Korean.

Lessons Learned from a Korean Ajumma On Adoptive Parents

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sue  |  February 19, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    ROTFLMAO That picture is so f-n funny!

    JL has been getting lots of Asian input with the New Year and keeps asking where her ancestors are–it hurts to hear the question and to acknowledge that she has been taken so far from them to be with us.

    As Jewish converts we have grafted ourselves into a family tree that is not ours by birth, so with that I comfort myself to some extent about giving JL pride–and yet she remains incensed that we CHOSE to give up CHRISTMAS.

    I have an inkling, though not the full experience, of what it feels like not to look the part and to wonder which cold shoulders are personal and which are just cold in general. There are only a couple of Jews, you being one of them, Julia, who have treated me like I am for real, Jew without question and it feels so great when that happens.

    I swore I would not try to teach two religions side by side but JL loves all the religious stories she hears from both Hinduism and Judaism and we are not connecting easily into either community as a mixed family, so wtf? might as well get what we can from each.

    Can you tell I thought this post was thought-provoking? Or maybe I am just procrastinating packing!

  • 2. Margie  |  February 24, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Happy New Year, Julia, happy YOUR year!

  • 3. Grace  |  February 25, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    How about a Korean kid being raised by her Korean birth-family in America and the kid not knowing how to be American?

  • 4. sume  |  March 1, 2007 at 1:38 am

    lol Julia, you brought back memories of what I felt when someone told me I was a dog. It was also while we sitting in a Chinese Restaurant. Dogs aren’t halal/kosher and are considered as lowly and disgusting by some among my peers.

    I was embarrassed about it then but now find no shame in it. According to some I seem to come out as a rooster but I can take either one. Other’s perceptions only go as far as I let them.

    Hmm, I bet we could have some pretty interesting conversations if ever got the chance to sit down and talk.

  • 5. Kahlan  |  March 8, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    “The challenging part is teaching them to be proud of what you are not – Asian.”

    Thank you, Julia. Thank you. I really needed to hear that. Raising Pookie as a Jew has been fairly easy thus far (hell, one of his first words was challah). It is the Asian part that we will struggle with.

    I appreciate you and hope all is well!

    p.s. That pic is a hoot!


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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. ~

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