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Popping the Jewish Bubble

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11/05/2013

Gabi Bronstein photo

I grew up in a town that was 85 percent Jewish. Every summer I attended a camp that was 95 percent Jewish. Then I went to a college where I lived in a dorm that virtually emptied during the High Holidays. Despite these being rough estimates, I think it’s safe to say I live in the Jewish Bubble.

That is until I moved to D.C. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of Jews here, I just happen not to know any of them. The people I’ve met/befriended are from very different walks of life and, for some, I’m the first Jew they’ve ever met. Talk about a 180. I would be lying if I said living outside the bubble wasn’t weird.

A few days ago I was out with some of these new friends when one made a comment that struck me. She said her parents didn’t want her attending a certain college because they didn’t want her marrying a Jew. She immediately knew what she had said was offensive.

I think I should have been more offended, but for some reason I wasn’t. Maybe it was because for the first time I was shocked to realize how very far out of my comfort zone I was, or maybe it was because on some level I wasn’t sure I disagreed with her. Do Jewish parents want their children marrying out of the religion either? I immediately changed the topic.

But the statement lingered with me. The more I thought about it the more confused I became on how I felt about it. Maybe Jewish parents don’t want their children marrying out of the religion, but is their reasoning the same as my friend’s parents?

The Jewish Bubble doesn’t really prepare you for life outside of it. It gives you no indication about how different people are or how different their views are. I would be lying if I said living outside the bubble wasn’t weird. But, I would also be lying if I said it didn’t open my eyes.

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