Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Schizophrenic Jew

As we made our Kosher for Passover meatloaf in a pan previously used to prepare a very dairy and wheaty zucchini cornbread just one week ago, it occurred to us that while American Jews are offered a variety of categories to self-identify with, as a culture we are sorely lacking a category for the "Schizophrenic Jew".

The above is a perfect example of the schizophrenia which we refer to.  Generally speaking, if you're keeping Kosher for Passover to the point of switching to Temp-Tee cream cheese for a week, you'll have a separate pan for Passover cooking.  Or at the very least have separate dishes for meat and dairy.  Obviously that was not the case in this example, which we shall refer to as "Proof point number one".

If you only consume this if it's Kosher for Passover, you might be a Schizophrenic Jew 
What else makes one a Schizophrenic Jew? Many contradictions.  Perhaps you speak Hebrew but can barely read and write.  Perhaps you are currently affiliated with a Reform Synagogue despite an upbringing in a traditional Conservative one, as well as an Egalitarian Conservative one, plus stints in a Modern Orthodox shul abroad, and time spent with friends in a Reconstructionist one.*

The Schizophrenic Jew defines "Kosher" really loosely.  While it's more than just a kind of salt, it doesn't extend much further beyond avoiding pigs and shrimp.  Often it involves avoiding cheeseburgers, but waiting until the plain burger is finished and swallowed before drinking the milkshake.  This Jew may live a 100% secular life, having never observed Shabbat, yet makes a conscious effort to check work email more on Sunday vs. Saturday.

The Schizophrenic Jew may have one Seder or two, depending on how Israeli they want to declare themselves on any given year.  They may know all the "laws" in general yet pick and choose what to follow, and even within those that are chosen they can be changed when it's convenient, which brings us to "Proof point number two".  In this example, the subject in question searched all over for the cranberry sauce without corn syrup yet when eating an omelet at a diner did not ask what kind of oil it was cooked in, deciding to live in the delight of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy at that moment due to extreme hunger.

There are many other varieties of Schizophrenic Jews, but the easiest way to spot one is to ask what their religious affiliation is.  If the response you get is "I have no fucking idea," you know you've found a bona fide Schizophrenic Jew. 

Now, we've given you two double-blind randomized trials of American Jews behaving oddly in the absence of a way to identify with their Judaism.  Isn't it high time we legitimize this phenomena and give these peeps a community of their own? 

As always, you heard it here first.   Happy Passover, peeps.

*Hypothetically speaking, of course. 


Wendy said...

I like to think that people can take what they want from religion, it's not all or nothing. You can keep kosher on Passover but not the rest of the year if it is meaningful for you to do so. I think the point of religion is to add to your life by making your life more meaningful and by making one more aware of the value of certain things. I'm pretty sure other religions have similar followers. Like Christians who only go to church on Christmas, or who are conservative in their beliefs but support pro-choice.
Well, my pepperoni frozen pizza is ready now for lunch so this Jew needs to get going:).

Ronen said...

I think schizophrenic Jew might be redundant