Thursday, April 23, 2009

The jokes write themselves

I just received an email, from a legitimate source, offering a possible $250 if I fill out a brief survey on my Jewish identity. Which of course I did, being both a Jew and - more to the point - a graduate student.

The survey was like a little visit back to Birthright, where a running theme was WILL YOUR CHILDREN BE JEWS?, expressed oh-so-subtly between the lines. As with Birthright, the survey permitted grad students (those born in 1983 or later - now I feel ancient), but was quite clearly aimed only at college students. Thus the many questions about extracurricular activities (does "French Grad Conference Organizing Committee" count?). And thus the option on the Relationships question to put something along the lines of, 'I don't date Jews or non-Jews, I just hook up, and since in the US circumcision's no guide, no matter if you're into guys or girls, casual sex will not tell you if someone is or is not Jewish.' (Would that it had been so phrased. But 'I just hook up' was definitely, startlingly, an option.)

My answers were, I think, a bit all over the place. I am at zero when it comes to religious activity, Hillel participation, and Appropriate Jewish Boyfriend, but the questions about 'Have you read a book on Jewish themes?', I mean, are there any books on French Jews left at NYU's library? Also, I was amused by the question asking whether I felt ambivalent about Israel being the "Jewish" state, because this conflicted with my "pluralistic" values. I could just see the eyes rolling of whoever wrote the survey, as my own do when I see such arguments. "Strongly Disagree", indeed.

I know full well that the results of this study will go towards various articles about ARE YOUNG AMERICAN JEWS TODAY GOING TO MAKE THE JEWISH BABIES?, and I accept that. If my accepting that wins me $250, all the better. But what would be super would be if they would allow you to meet with the others who filled out the survey as you did. I want to know if there are others with crazy academic and Zionistic interest in things Jewish, unambivalent but non-proselytizing atheism, and a desire to see Judaism understood as something other than Semitic pro-natalism. It can't be that uncommon...

7 comments:

David Schraub said...

"I want to know if there are others with crazy academic and Zionistic interest in things Jewish, unambivalent but non-proselytizing atheism, and a desire to see Judaism understood as something other than Semitic pro-natalism."

Well, I don't identify as an atheist, but other than that, holla!

Or should I say, Challah!

PG said...

David,

What do you identify as? I consider myself a Hindu agnostic as I'm too lazy to dig out all the bits of Hinduism embedded in my brain, and definitely lacking the energy to be an atheist.

Matt said...

My Buddhism is atheistic. Probably doesn't count, though. Franz Kafka might: There's been some talk that he was a Zionist. (You two should like totally hook up.) I bet people with similar interests in their own Jewishness are probably common.

PG said...

The Jewish agnostic category at Wikipedia is bizarre -- isn't Bill Maher a full blown atheist? Didn't he make a whole damn movie about this?

Anonymous said...

Bill Maher was raised Catholic (Irish Catholic father and Jewish mother) so if not an atheist, which he surely is, he'd be more (oxymoronically) an agnostic Catholic. -- JM

Anonymous said...

The mother of a friend of my son's said, 'well, we don't believe. but we are culturally Jewish', and I had an easy response, that we don't believe, but we are culturally Christian.
What will that make our children? Moonies, maybe. dave.s.

Phoebe said...

I don't think it would be physically possible for me to hook up with Kafka, at least not in the Birthright sense, but I've enjoyed what I've read of his work.