One evening when I was about eleven, my siblings and I waited in a car outside a restaurant. Kids on bikes circled us, calling us "Jew...Jew". Hunh? Their ignorance--we weren't Jews--mitigated the threat, but somehow even as a child I knew that yelling back "We're not Jews, you jerks!" was not the right response. I was a little scared, too.
More recently, my best friend in Lanesborough for ten years at that point (she has since moved) was an observant Jew and daughter of Holocaust survivors. I can't remember the context, but at a social occasion, she referred to myself and another friend with a similar surname, as “the Germans". Hunh? I spoke up--I've never been to Germany and my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors came to this country in 1750. I don't identify as German. I was an "innocent" Quaker!
The kids on bikes scattered when my mother appeared. My friend and I remained very close. But these two incidents are linked in my mind. Am I Jewish or German, both, or neither?
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