For some reason, I do not like being “a Jew” or being called “a Jew.”

The phrase “a Jew” makes me squirm. In my mind, it has the connotation of being ugly; exploitative; unfair; corrupt; very money, money, money-oriented; argumentative to no end; and noisy.

Anti-Semitic propaganda somehow penetrated my self-image, and I cannot rid myself of it. I do not like being called “A JEW.”

Being “Jewish” is different. This way, I feel proud of who I am and to whom I belong. I am truly proud of being Jewish and lucky to be born Jewish.

All my creative thinking is not just mine. It is in my genes. It is generations of learning. Inquiring. Never failing to ask and think. That is what I have inherited. I stand high on the shoulders of my ancestors.

Yes, it is a race. And I belong to that race which has kept its purity over thousands of years.

We survived for over two thousand years, taken away from our country and dispersed all over the globe. Being persecuted. Sold like slaves, burned and murdered and exiled and still not giving up our identity and religion. Who else has such a record in human history?

I can trace my family all the way back to 1492 when we were expelled from Spain. My friends even found the Kalderon family coat of arms from Spain.

I have deep roots. I can speak Ladino, the language my ancestors spoke five hundred years ago in Spain.

We Jews are only twelve million. An infinitesimal percentage of world population. The population of a medium-sized city in China. That is all. But look at what we have contributed to the world in art, science, literature, philosophy. You name it.

We always strive to do our best. We never take anything for granted. Tikkun olam, to repair the world, is a flag we follow. We always look for what needs to be improved. And we work on it even if it costs us our lives. Who were the first to go to the South to start the civil rights movement? Three Jewish kids.

We even turn against ourselves if we feel that we are doing an injustice. Who are the leaders of the movement to boycott Israeli products produced in the “occupied” area of Israel? Again, Jews. We are the leaders because we strive to improve whatever we are involved in. We push, argue and never give up. We are dedicated to truth and justice even if it it is self-destructive. Look how many Jews are AGAINST Israel.

People do not like us for it. That is how we become rejected and prosecuted Jews. We are too competitive. I know who is Jewish in my lectures. It is the person who always challenges me. Who is the first with an answer to my question. Who disagrees with me before I even finish presenting my argument.

Obviously, the other participants in the class resent it.

And we flaunt our wealth. And act as if we own the world. Look how a Jew walks into a restaurant. That is what makes us “Jews.”

Ah, if I could only be Jewish and not A JEW.

Just thinking,
Ichak Kalderon Adizes