As a product of a mixed-religion union I celebrate every major Jewish holiday with my immediate family, my Jewish father and any goyim I can trick into eating chopped liver. Whenever I prepare a kosher meal I ask myself, “Why don’t I have any Jewish friends?” The answer is simply that there aren’t any Jews around.
When I returned to school this year I figured I could find a group to join, or friends I could make, who would be willing to share Seder with me. Unfortunately there are no campus clubs celebrating Jewish culture. I can create my own club, but I will need a faculty adviser and 10 prospective student members. I gulped, “Ten?” Are there 10 Jews on campus? How would I find them?
Upon Googling “Jew American River College,” results for Joan Rivers and Joan of Arc popped up, as well as a page about a menu the Oak Café prepared over three years ago, but nothing linking ARC to anything Jewish.
I suspect this absence of a Jewish community at ARC is just a symptom of a much larger happening. Over the years I’ve seen fewer Hanukkah items at the big-box stores, the kosher foods sections in the supermarket in my neighborhood has been dwindling, and the only deli that serves Jewish food isn’t even kosher.
It could be that Jews are not embracing their religious and cultural heritage as they have in the past, and thereby aren’t encouraging retailers to supply to their demands. It may simply be that Jews are moving out of unincorporated Sacramento – an exodus, if you will.
I do have hope however, that there is a Jew out there, somewhere, looking for another Hebrew with whom to break challah.
Until then, I will celebrate Rosh Hashanah with my small family and the goyim. My father will dip the apples in honey and utter the prayers of his father, and of his father, my children will sneak sips of wine, and I will boil matzo balls and fry latkes.
Alone, I will solemnly eat my gefilte fish, and as I force that symbol of unification down my gullet, I will pray that next year I may be able to celebrate with more of my tribe.
Glossary (If you had a Jewish friend, you wouldn’t need this.)
challah – a braided egg bread
chopped liver – exactly what it sounds like
gefilte fish – a ball of ground fish in an unidentified gelatinous substance
goyim – non-Jewish people
Hebrew – Jew
kosher – pertaining to Jewish dietary law
latkes – fried shredded-potato pancake
matzo balls – dumplings made of ground matzo crackers, usually served in soup
Rosh Hashanah – The first days of the 10-day long Jewish New Year
Seder – a religious meal celebrating the Hebrews’ exodus of Egypt.
The Tribe – The collection of those who identify as a Jew.