“Am Yisrael chai. (The People of Israel live.)”
I am a Jew, first and foremost. Everything else—my Hispanic origins, my place of birth, my current home, my autism—is secondary, and always will be.
I am a Zionist Jew. I support Israel’s right to exist, to remain, to defend itself, to engage in wars that are just from a Jewish perspective, and to expect support from Diaspora Jewry.
I am an affiliated Jew. The overwhelm and stress of my (then undiagnosed) autism dividing me from my former synagogues—and the long pandemic years without a shul—came to an abrupt end after October 7th. Having a community of fellow Jews in my life and a place to daven Friday nights and Saturday mornings, I finally feel like myself again and, given the circumstances, feel guilty that I’m filled with so much joy at returning to being a practical part of my people.
I am a repentant Jew. For years, I took Israel and Israelis for granted. The importance of the Jewish state and its Law of Return as the single guarantor of life and safety for worldwide Jews. The lives, hopes, fears, and hard realities of Jews in Israel. Their need for Klal Israel to stand by them. They needed me every time I looked away. I love them and I’m sorry. I’ll never not have their backs again.
I am a Republican-leaning Jew. I will likely vote in the Republican primary, and I will likely vote for a Republican president.
I was a Progressive Democrat Jew. My support for the ideology waned as the far-left fringe of the party made antisemitism the required virtue signal for belonging. It collapsed completely after the American Progressive response to the October 7th massacre was to celebrate it in the streets.
I am a Jew who knows our allies pulled this same shit in 1967. Last time, we decided to forget. This time, let’s make sure we remember.
For that reason, I’m a Jew whom you probably can’t get back on “your side.” Republicans uniformly understanding that “from the river to the sea” welcomes Jewish genocide—and opposing it vehemently—is why. Democrats repeatedly giving their own members a pass on Jew hate—from Obama on Iran to the Tlaib censure vote on November 7th—is why. Support for Israel becoming the litmus test for a GOP presidential candidate is why.
I’m a Jew who is politically well aware of everything else. But as long as the Democrats demand that to be a good Jewish Democrat means agreeing that the world can kill you for being a Jew, my big Jewish, gay, Hispanic, immigrant-family, autistic ass will choose my literal life and the life of my people first among Republicans, and argue about everything else later.
I am a Tablet Jew. I feel every single article in the magazine’s blunt, post-massacre What Now? issue.
I am an AIPAC Jew. After October 7th, my vote involves one thing and one thing alone—the security of Jews. Jews in America. Jews in Israel. That’s it. That won’t ever not be the most important thing again.
I am not a J Street Jew. I’m not opposed to the idea of a two-state solution in principle. But in practice, it seems clear that idea died in the massacre alongside more than 1,200 innocent Jewish civilians, families, children, elderly.
I am absolutely not a Jewish Voice for Peace Jew. Anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Hard stop. My Jewish tent will never be wide enough to support them or their toxic aims.
In a broad sense, I’m also no longer a social-justice Jew. My community matters to me, and there’s enough unearned hate aimed at it and need for healing within it to monopolize my attention for the rest of my life. I spent too many years as an ally to others who showed who they and their movements really are in the past month. Since Progressives want my people dead anyway, I’m sure their causes will do just fine without my allyship.
I am a surprised Jew. I never expected my identity, worldview, and politics to all suddenly and wrenchingly shift inside me in the course of a single, awful day, nor for them all to arrive at their current destination. I know a similar shift happened for every Jew on earth that day. I know we’re all still shuffling inside and trying to find a way to figure out who we are now. Who we want to be now. How to move forward now. I know I’m not alone.
And I am a proud Jew. I stand behind where I find myself on my Jewish journey right now. If you support my stance, great. If you don’t, great. Change my mind. Or not. It’s between me and HaShem anyway. The important point is that it’s a JEWISH journey. I struggled with it as we Jews do, I didn’t get here blindly.
Nearly three years ago, when I finally found out about my autism, an autistic Jewish friend bet me that Jewish topics would fall away and my blog would thenceforth become all about autism…
I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...
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