Too Jewish, or not Jewish enough?

by Talia Jaffe, Education InternTalia Jaffe

There is a decision a person has to make every time they walk into a room. They have to decide if they want to be the funny version of themselves, the nice, the frustrated, the understanding. They have to decide which of their identities they want to put forth. What would happen if that decision, the decision as to what kind of a person you wanted to be, were no longer yours?

Okay, that is a little extreme, but you get my point. Every day, no matter where I go, I have to decide what kind of Jew I want to be. Some days I am Talia Jaffe, the high schooler who identifies as a Religious Reform Jew, but is perceived to not really be that Jewish because Reform Jews aren’t really Jews, right? Then, there are the other days where I am Talia Jaffe, the high schooler who identifies as a Religious Reform Jew, but is perceived to be a little bit crazy, weirdly passionate, and almost “too Jewish.”

How can I simultaneously be “too Jewish” and “not Jewish enough”? This is a question I have struggled with my whole life, and it was not until I began working at Mayyim Hayyim just a month ago that I learned there exists places in this world where that dichotomy does not have to be present. No matter what my beliefs and practices are, I am a Jew, working for the betterment of the Jewish community, in a truly holy place, and that is all that matters.

Talia Jaffe is a Senior at Gann Academy, and currently an Education Intern at Mayyim Hayyim, enhancing post-visit resources for students, creating a book of blessings to bestow upon the honorees at our upcoming event, and planning for our tenth anniversary year. When not at the Mikveh she spends most of her free time either rock climbing or hanging out at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA with her Youth Group, LEFTY. Additionally, she is super duper looking forward to next year as she starts a new chapter of her life at the University of Rochester!


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