The Jewish Haj by Joy Sisisky
From the outside, I seem like a good Jew. But what you don’t know is I don’t fast on Yom Kippur anymore, I eat bread during Passover and I don’t pray. Instead of going to synagogue I would rather go to Siberia, not because I hate synagogue but because it makes me feel more Jewish, more than lighting candles, more than keeping kosher... I do it because what makes me feel like a good Jew is visiting a Holocaust survivor in her home; she’s homebound, she’s bedridden, she hasn’t left in 7 years, she’s wearing a diaper, there are roaches crawling on her floor and they are crawling up her bedposts, she is happy to have me there because I am the only connection she has to the outside world. I do it because what makes me feel like a good Jew is visiting a man in Tblisi, who has lost everything in the war with Russia, his family and his home and he wants to give me and my friends a bag of apples and a piece of cheese, the only food he has left to eat. Or hugging a grandma who lives in a tent on the golf course on Porta Prince. She hasn’t bathed and all she has on is an old pair of shoes and open robe, when I bend over to hug her I can smell her and it makes me feel very Jewish.