I spoke Saturday at Jewlicious Festival, which is sort of like Burning Man for religiously observant Jews. Yes, they needed a foil for “Cool Jew” Lisa Klug, Y-Love and Matisyahu.
Originally I was going to speak on a panel with Bizarro Brad, also known as “My Jesus Year” author Benyamin Cohen. But he wasn’t able to make it, which is why two hours before I needed to be in Long Beach, I was at Coffee Bean writing my talk. We called it “My NOT so Jewish life.”
I talked about my family’s Jewish history, my Christian beliefs and my miserable experience getting the business from El Al when I flew to Israel. You can listen to my 15-minute talk here. The Q&A, which I anticipated being more interesting, was too long to upload. Here’s an excerpt from the opening:
Some of my friends say that I have the best of both worlds—as one of my colleagues like to refer to me, that I am a daywalker. ... That I have all the strengths and none of the weaknesses. Though some days it feels the other way around. I can get my Jewfro on with the best of them. I have thick glasses, you can see that, a penchant for Chuck Taylors and a neurosis that makes Larry David uncomfortable. It’s hard for me to go down the street, pass a couple of Chabadniks and not be asked, “Are you Jewish?”
On the other hand, I’m sort of a Jesus freak, I love my neighbor and I really enjoy drinking the blood of Christ. My name is Brad Greenberg and I’m not a Jew ... I’m so not Jewish that for lent I gave up corned beef.
That last part is actually not true. Eating is probably the most Jewish I get. But you get the point. I might live in Los Angeles and be senior writer for The Jewish Journal, but I was raised, and remain, a God-fearing Christian – albeit one with, as I like to claim in my bio on The God Blog, devilishly good Jewish looks. As the Jewish Forward said in an interview with me from 2007: “Funny, Brad Greenberg, Doesn’t Look Christian.”
Don’t fear: I’m not with Jews for Jesus or to convert you. But rather to share with you what prompted my Jew-ish journey and what it’s like being a Jew to gentiles and a gentile to Jews.
That’s actually the point in my talk when I dropped the notes and, consequently, sounded a lot more comfortable. Now if only I could feel comfortable enough to plum the depths of my Jew-ish journey and put it on paper.