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Jewish Journal

Good Jew, Bad Jew, Red Jew, Blue Jew

by Ilana Angel

November 19, 2011 | 4:23 pm

I wrote an article this week about random people telling me they love Jews. It bothers me when people tell me they love all Jewish people.  I certainly don’t love all Jewish people.  Nobody can love an entire group of anything, whether it is people, places or things, and it’s silly to think you can.

If someone does not like me, I’d like to think it has nothing to do with my being Jewish.  You can think I’m a bad person, but don’t think I’m a bad Jew. If you don’t like me based solely on my faith, then you are an anti-Semite. If it’s for other reasons, then you are simply human.

It is offensive when people say I am one of the “good Jews”.  What does that mean?  Is the implication that Jews are bad people, but I managed to somehow not be?  Is there a private club of “good Jews”?  How do you qualify to make it into this elite group of chosen people?

Is it non-Jews who select whether or not you are a good Jew?  Is it not just a passive aggressive way to be anti-Semitic? To be clear, it’s not just non-Jews who label the type of Jew I am.  Other Jewish people have told me I’m not a good Jew.  It’s hurtful, but also embarrassing.

Not embarrassing for me, but for my faith.  Does questioning whether or not I’m a good Jew, by other Jews, not make them the bad Jew? Do I need to follow the laws of a book written thousands of years ago, to be able to call myself a good Jew?  Don’t I get to decide that for myself?

What about when someone says I am a “bad Jew”.  What does that mean? Good Jew, bad Jew, red Jew, blue Jew.  A Jew is a human being first, and faith is part of who we are, not the one defining thing that we are to be labeled by.  I am frustrated with people being so ignorant.

I appreciate that I label myself a Jew.  I write about my Jewish life, that I only date Jewish men, and how I want my son to marry a Jew.  I write for a Jewish website, and I invest time and energy into learning about my faith so that I can understand it better, not be better at it.

At the end of the day the world is complicated and it’s unfortunate so many of the problems of the planet are based on labeling.  I am a Jew.  Period.  I am a human.  Period.  I am good.  Period. Maybe more people would get that if instead of judging faith, they were keeping the faith.

*Thanks to my friend Jared, for inspiring this dialogue.  You my friend are good.  Period.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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