Jewish Identity When You’re Not Jewish

25 Jul

chris dome of the rocjAs an employee of The Jewish Federation, I’m used to people assuming I’m Jewish. I’ve had friends who have known me for years ask if I am Jewish.  (Admittedly, I’m not religious but I still find it amusing that they need to confirm).  After I returned from my mission to Israel in 2010, I realized that I had become an ambassador amongst my non-Jewish friends, whose misconceptions about Israel were completely inaccurate, though similar to the ones I had prior to working within the Jewish community. I’ve been asked about everything from Israeli food to personal safety and the discussions that follow almost always surprise those who inquire.

Recently, my grandfather gave me a ring with Stars of David encompassing it that he had worn for years.  He simply found it to be beautiful and had never really considered the Jewish connection.  I now wear it most days and notice positive responses from Jews, both young and old.  There is an immediate smile and exclamation, like, “I love your ring”, to which I smile and say thanks. They don’t ask if I’m Jewish and I don’t offer to clarify.

The bottom line is, no matter where I live or work in life, I have a solidified love for Israel and the people who are responsible for its existence. This often shows in what I wear, in my actions or my conversations.  Do you ever find yourself as a spokesperson for Israel or Judaism?

chris kotel

Chris Alexander is the Creative Director at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

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