Thursday, February 16, 2006

Jewish Bonding

Do you know what I love about Jews? The instinct that they have whenever they see another Jew in a non-Jewish setting, to make sure that the other Jew knows they're there. You know what I mean. Seeing someone with a kippa in the college library and pointedly take out a siddur or something. Talking loudly in yeshivish when you're standing near other Jews at an amusement park. The story I read in Tales Out of Shul (I believe) where a little girl shouts to her mother "what time is candling lighting?" on a Wednesday, just because she's seen another Jew enter the super-market.
And apparently the instinct is not unique to the religious. A girl in my Civ class always likes to bring in Old Testament quotes, and then shoot me a look beneath her eyelids as if to say, "You and me, kid. We know." The girl does not appear to be religious, has never once come to Hillel, and has no connection to me outside of class.
I had a wonderful example of this yesterday. I was sitting in the college guidance hallway, waiting for my instructor to show up for the mandatory meeting. Being around a week behind on my daf (wow, that's embarrassing to admit), I took out my pocket sized gemara and started to catch up. After a couple of minutes, I looked up to see a white-haired professorial type (no kippa) standing over me. "You know," he said, "you ought to get one of those magnifying glasses if you're going to be studying Talmud. It's not good for your eyes." "Yeah," I said, grinning imbecilically, "It's just that these are so convenient." "But still, you have to take care of your eyes. Especially if you're going to be reading Rashi." "Yes, I do Rashi," I said, repeating it as if it were a code word- 'The Mackeral hunts at midnight' 'Very good. You are one of Us.'
Did he feel the need to tell me about magnifying glasses? Did I care about his comments about them? No. Of course not. It was just the old Jewish bonding instinct recognizing its own in the college hallways.

2 comments:

Irina Tsukerman said...

Reminds me of a certain portion in "A Catcher in the Rye", though it had to do with Catholics.

G Green said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean!
The extra long 'just catching the others eye' across a crowded train, with knowing smile. reminds me of a story to post.