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To be a Jew

In 1975 Hillel comes home from summer camp

he is a vegan now, one of the madrichim

at Bnei Akiva camp converted him

Hillel doesn’t eat meat, fish, eggs, milk products

if a utensil that was used to prepare or serve up

one of these forbidden items touches his plate

he refuses to eat its contaminated contents


Today Hillel is 40, a Baal Teshuva

wears fringes, black coat and Fedora

goes to shul every day

on Shabbes he eats cholent with beef or chicken

every year he visits the Rebbe’s home in Brooklyn

feels certain that the Moshiach will arrive soon


Hillel’s brother Benny lives in Ireland

he is married to Gwen a shikse who was a Catholic

until she was molested by a nun

at age 11. Benny and Gwen belong to a sect

headed by Xycra, a spirit who lived 3000 years

ago in Atlantis. Hillel doesn’t visit them because

their house is not kosher and there is no nearby mikve


Fiona, their sister aged 12 has decided

to keep kosher. She waits for three hours after eating meat

before dipping into her beloved milchike ice-cream

Gwen doesn’t mind, thinks Fiona’s still young

and impressionable. It will pass, she says


Hillel’s cousin Judi is a poet living in Tel-Aviv

she writes political poems against what she calls

the occupation. Goes to a literary group at the house

of Miriam who lives on a kibbutz. Miriam was born a

Christian but converted to Judaism at age 19. She is

now a reform rabbi who preaches to a congregation

in Johannesburg over the high holidays, writes poems

on biblical themes and sometimes Greek mythology


The Jewish population of the world today is 14, 200,000.

By another count it is 17,200,000. The difference being

people who have one Jewish and one non-Jewish parent

and who do not call themselves Jews. Miriam says that

anyone who wants to can be a Jew no matter what the

orthodox rabbis say. Benny and Gwen don’t really care


Fiona hasn’t decided. Depends on who she falls in love

with she says. Anyway she’s going to continue keeping kosher because

her best friend at school says that’s what good Jews should do

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© Johnmichael Simon



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