The Truth About My Jewishness

  1. Genetically, I am a hardcore WASP with a dash of Catholic.
    Like, DAR early colonial shit.
  2. But I was adopted when I was six by a Jewish atheist. My last name was changed from Martin to Gross.
  3. When I was little, my Christian relatives largely disappeared from my life, but my Jewish relatives were unwavering. I came to associate Judaism with consistency.
  4. Despite my dad not being into the religion, he liked the cultural parts. We did most of the major holidays. I learned how to recite the Hanukkah prayer.
    He made me say it every year. I made him a menorah when I was six out of a plank of wood and some glitter glue. We used it into my 20s.
  5. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish community, and came to identify as culturally Jewish. My parents offered to send me to Temple and throw me a bat mitzvah. They weren't religious but felt it could be a good thing to grow up with. I told them I'd prefer to sleep in on the weekends.
    I mildly regret this now.
  6. My dad thought I was funny. It was a huge compliment coming from him. He said I had a sense of humor because I was raised amongst Jews.
    He also cited this as the reason my ex-Catholic mother had no sense of humor.
  7. I believed that many Hebrew words were English until I went to college. NYU was the first time I was aware that there were large portions of the country that had never met a Jewish person. It shocked me (still does).
    My dad was the first Jewish person my roommate had ever met.
  8. My first day of grad school, a professor called me into his office for a meet and greet. His first question: "Gross. German. Jewish or Christian?" "Jewish," I responded. "Good," he replied.
    I shit you not. I did NOT get into the whole adopted thing, obviously.
  9. Judaism isn't much a part of my life anymore, but for the people I love who practice. They are beautiful, amazing friends and family members, and I'm incredibly lucky to have them in my life.