The first person who comes to my mind is someone that I almost don’t know anything about, she is an idea, what I wanna be. The girl without a name sits in front of me in the women’s section at the synagogue, she has long curly hair, she is white as I imagine the princess Snow White to be, she wears modest clothes, she reads her own Ashkenazi sidur and she is very Jewish.
I walk up through the stairs of my beautiful synagogue, where my soul and heart are, by the end of the stairs there is a glass door, through the glass I can see the women's prayer section. I’m a feminist. How do I unite my feminism and the segregation inside of my shul? I understand that man and woman are not the same, they are equal but they are different no less. And it is easy to concentrate on the prayer if I’m not worried about trying to look sexy for a guy.
When I sit in the shul, she is right in front of me, on the other side of the women’s section. I can see her white skin and dark hair against the blue background wall of our Sephardic shul. I envy her. She has a natural Jewish identity that I can only wish to have. It is amazing how someone that you do not even know sticks around in your mind like the words of a JFK speech. A person can be like good rhetoric that has been said during difficult times. The girl without a name is my Jewish ideal and, therefore, never achievable. She looks beautiful, she has a Jewish beauty that I’ll never match and that causes me a lot of pain. I keep thinking if a Jewish boy would look at her before he noticed me. I think she has a very Ashkenazi beauty.
The girl without a name is part of the Jewish youth group, that I would love to be part of, but I can’t, because I’m not Jewish. I would love to have friends within the youth group, to talk about Birth-Right Taglit Israel trips and to talk with those beautiful Jewish boys. But I’m not part of this reality. I hope when I have a daughter, she will be part of the world that I find myself within and without.
She has a Jewish, natural self-confidence, like all the girls at the shul have. I don’t have self-confidence, much less a Jewish one! I question myself: how can I develop it? I don’t know, it feels like high school all over again. I would like to have her beauty, her Jewish identity, I would like to be friend, at least a friend, of Jewish boys.
The best part of the shabbat morning service is when they take the Torah scrolls out from the ark to be read. It’s a beautiful moment, seems as if happiness can be felt in the air and fear no longer exists in the world. It’s strange, I feel fully Jewish and simultaneously apart, far away. I love it and love makes me equal to the others around me, even equal to the Jewish girl that I have never met, but I’m not part of that world. Why have I decided to enter this limbo?
After the service ends, I hug and whisper to others, “shabbat shalom”. The girl without a name has left, once more, she is just someone in my mind, I do not even know her voice. I go down the stairs.
I love my shul, it is the only place where I can be fully within and without the Jewish world. To the world outside those walls, I’m Jewish. Inside of those walls, I’m not.
Before we leave, we talk. It doesn’t take a long time to start to talk about it, about the Israelis - best friends and forever brothers, and the Palestinians. I’m what in the Jewish world is called a "self-hating Jew”. I have a hard time trying to figure out how it’s possible for someone who doesn’t yet have a Jewish identity, to hate oneself already.