I’ve been feeling extra Jewy lately. When Nazis and white nationalists come out of the woodwork, you see, my instinct grows strong to pull out the gold Star of David my great-great-uncle made for my grandmother and wear it proudly, unabashedly around my neck — just like I did when I visited Auschwitz and a little nearby Polish town called Bedzin, where my grandfather’s parents were from, once so bustling with Jews but now containing only an overgrown Jewish cemetery in the middle of a forest and one sole Jewish family. It’s my middle finger to those who wish us gone. Great-Great-Uncle Adrian, the jeweler who made that beautiful star, came here, with his parents and brother and sisters — including my great-grandmother — from Bucharest, like so many Jews, like my other great-grandparents, to escape persecution. Lucky they left when they did. So many others could not. So many others never would. So many others were trapped.
Which is why this week I decided to make some challah. A braided, enriched, eggy bread, challah, to me, is comforting in its tenderness. And braiding challah is, in essence, a meditation on humanity: many separate strands woven together to create a whole. I’m no Jewish scholar. I’m not sure if that ever was what was intended in the weekly preparation of this special bread, eaten on the Sabbath and all holidays (besides Passover). But today, I feel more than ever that it’s what it’s meant to be. Continue reading →