Are you Jewish?

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So while sitting at the offices of MyJewishLearning, we heard a knock on the door. Low and behold it was our friends at Chabad coming to see if anyone wanted to (or could be forced) into laying tefillin. The mezzuzah gave us away.

And as our Chief Operating Officer says, “They got me.”

As many Jews, both religious and not, may tell you, they feel irked when approached on the streets by a Chabadnik asking if they are Jewish or when hearing the melody of the Mitzva tank in the air. It can make even a confident Jew question his or her identity and practice.

But whether you like them or not, Chabad is widely successful at one of the community’s favorite buzzwords — outreach. And at least one more person put on tefillin than would have without their efforts.

Still, I feel left out. When will someone come knocking at my door asking if I’ve gone to the mivkah today?

Posted on June 8, 2007

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16 thoughts on “Are you Jewish?

  1. rachel

    I live in a small town, and though there’s a Chabad house nearby, they don’t do the Mitzvah Tank thing here.

    I’ve always wondered how they would respond were a woman to reply, “no thanks, I have Shabbos candles at home already, and by the way it’s a weekday and I already laid tefillin this morning at shacharit!” *g*

  2. The Doctor

    I remember being approached by a young chabadnik on the streets of St. Thomas on vacation. It being that time of year, we spoke first and wished him a happy Hanukkah. He looked at my daughters [adopted from China and taken to mikveh] and said “what, you’re Jewish?” I replied “Yes. Are you?”

    He had a sense of humor about it…

  3. The Doctor

    I’m not saying that they don’t do good deeds and have good intentions. But it’s sometimes hard to remember that when they cop an attitude…

  4. hannahrachel

    It was Chabad that first got my Reform-but-involved family to light candles and honor Shabbat. I was ten years old, leaving the JCC in Chicago in the evening after classes there and a woman on the sidewalk said, “Does your mother light candles on Shabbos? Give her these and ask her to light them on Shabbos.” We lit them every week after that, and made a time to “notice” that the week had ended. I, too, am uncomfortable with the judgmental nature of the outreach they do, but I also credit Chabad with bringing some ritual into my childhood.

  5. dan13

    I’m probable the one in this world who is filing freedom
    to bee Jew/newer want to feel it like “prisoner”
    simply I’m not warried about this dilemma! do you?

  6. celesteno

    they tend not be judgmental at all. Their whole party line is that they just want to get Jews to do more mitzvot, they definitely don’t have the attitude that they are going to make you Orthodox like it or not, they just want to provide the resources, information, and encouragement you might need. I’m not Chabad, but I used to help a Chabad shliach occasionally and several of my friends are Chabad and are shliachs themselves.

  7. boadicca

    sad that ’us and them’ should exist within the ranks ….. when it is exactly where anti-semitism is rooted OUTside the ranks

  8. clara1

    Recently I had two people recognize the pendant of a Torah that I wear. I was surprised. The first was a Jewish boy who was not raised Jewish but has family who is and a Xian Dr. who knows a Jewish Dr in the area. (I used to have a star of David, but my dog ate it.) I was pleasently surprised both times. So I wear my Jewishness around my neck because otherwise I’d be taken for white supremest, I’m that white and blond-headed and blue eyed.

    clara

  9. The Doctor

    Clara,

    My mother’s family was filled with blonds and redheads and I myself was light-haired as a child.

    Whenever I hear people worry about whether they “look” Jewish or Aryan or whatever, I think of two things: my daughters [incredibly Jewish and chinese in origin] and the head of the mastarace, that [not] blond-haired, [not] blue-eyed adolf feller…

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