Today marks the final day, day eighteen, of the Somehow I Am Different Blog Tour. Eighteen, or chai, means life in Hebrew and is one of the most recognizable symbols of Judaism. Gifts are often given in multiples of 18, which symbolizes giving the recipient life or luck. The cheers “L’Chaim!” or “To Life!” highlights the joy and renewal in Jewish community celebrations.
I am honored to share Aryeh Gelfand’s poem about his own Jewish identity for day eighteen of this blog tour. Aryeh’s poem explores many of the questions that many Jews struggle through and are often fearful to express. The raw, honest, and seeking nature of Aryeh’s expression is a perfect culmination of all that this blog tour and Somehow I Am Different have aimed to represent. And if you really want to feel something, you’ll have to see Aryeh perform the piece in person!
My Jewish Identity
Being a Jew to me is everything.
It is to live in a state of dichotomous balance.
It is to be hated, feared, and misunderstood.
It is to be envied.
It is to live as Clark Kent, with his true form lying skin deep beneath the fabric that covers his true essence
What of those who wear the black and white and spit on the forces of modernity?
What of those of those ancient relics of a past ill-remembered and ill-understood?
Are they worshipers of a God long since dead, and keeping alive traditions that brought the fires of death on both themselves and all of humanity?
Or are they standard bearers of an ancient and subversive light unto nations?
Where is the place of the doubter? The non-believer? Those who claw at the dirt piling on to their face in desperate search of some fresh air to breathe.
Who gets to wear the armor of God?
Is it the soldiers wedded to tradition who thrust their pikes through the hearts and minds of those who profess not to believe?
Or are those who choose to live a life of not choosing. Not knowing.
Where lies the truth in this world.
Why does it lie underneath piles of wet mud and is made up of lost, and broken dreams.
Continuously broken promises.
Why are we as blind dogs, lead by the leash of reason, and myth, and preconception. Through this minefield of traps and holes, in which to fall?
Why is the norm to be lost, without a map?
But is to be lost? not to
It is too
a path to search!
Where lies the answers to the questions we all ask?
Or if we don’t should be asking?
I don’t know.
But we must be content to lay blinded in the dark.
Grasping at traces of lightning. As it flashes briefly, momentarily across the black sky.
Illuminating the truth. If but for one singular moment!
It is for these moments, for which we live.
For there is no truth. Only beauty.
And the wild seas of our tormented souls, in which we can find comfort.
Thank you, Aryeh, for sharing your search with us. If you have a reaction to this piece, please comment here or email apetersel@gmail and I will forward the question or comment to Aryeh himself.