This essay appears in our July 2015 digital issue. Read the rest of the story and the entire issue by downloading it today.
EVEN AS A CHILD, I wrinkled my nose, wrapped my hair around my thumb and forefinger, and took it as a compliment when someone said to me, “You don’t look Jewish.”
For years, I haven’t acted Jewish either (if there is such a thing as a Jewish way to act). I don’t just mean I haven’t worn my Jewish star. I mean I’ve avoided the stereotypes: talking with my hands, bragging about my kids, showing off my money, playing mahjong.
Last year, though, at the age of seventy-four, I chopped chicken livers in my grandmother’s wooden bowl, which I had had to search for in the recesses of my kitchen. I probably hadn’t used it in at least thirty years.
During those years, I didn’t think about chopping chicken livers—or about brisket or kasha of the High Holidays. Instead, I decorated dozens of Christmas trees, attached feathery birds to their branches, and perched a white dove on top. Cold winter nights, I roasted pork. When I told one of my friends, a poet I share work with, about this essay, she said, “I didn’t even know you were Jewish.”
JOYCE GREENBERG LOTT has published two chapbooks, “Dear Mrs. Dalloway” and “An Unexpected World,” with Finishing Line Press. Her essays and poems have appeared in Journal of NJ Poets, U.S. 1 Worksheets, The Patterson Literary Review, Ms. Magazine, The Times and other publications. Boynton/Cook Heinemann published her book “A Teacher’s Stories”. Recently, Joyce was published in Marion Behr’s “Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices.” At the age of 77, she moved from New Jersey, where she lived all her life, to Long Beach, California, where her daughter Suzanne Greenberg, a fiction writer, has been living and teaching for over 20 years. Joyce is beginning to write about her adventures there.
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