jewin' the fat

July 2, 2009, 2:44 PM
Filed under: Jewish Community | Tags: , ,

On Sunday I received a phone call from a business administrator of a JC institution. Quite befuddling, really, for a number of reasons. Not only do I no longer live at my parent’s house (Where the call was answered), but I also have not had any formal contact with the institution since I left five or more years ago. Did I mention I have never met the BA (let’s call her that for expediency’s sake), and that she told me she got my (parent’s) number from my younger sibling’s friends DAD?!

Welcome to the JC – where your every movement seems captured for eternity on some insidious CCTV – but you can’t seem for the life of you to find the camera. It is within this strange gossip-fuelled community that I grew up in.

I am sure, nevertheless that every small community is the same, but up until recently I found the Big Brother-style community commentary to be a quaint, innocent ‘Yiddishe Mama’ habit, which I was sure would cease once I grew old enough to leave the fold. Not So. What I didn’t realise, like the proverbial frog, is that as balmy as the temperature was to start with, I didn’t realise the water is boiling up around me until I was, for lack of a better word, cooked.

So imagine my surprise, when during an unannounced trip home I was solicited to copy, bind, courier  fetch, carry, roll over and play dead – all in the interests of  ‘do us a favour’, ‘you don’t mind, do you?’, and ‘if it’s not too much trouble’. If ‘Utegate’ was any indication,  Malcolm, Kevin and the gang now truly know how I feel.

Like I said, I have no problem helping out a friend, a colleague, or even an acquaintance (as evidenced by my propensity to ferry frozen meat, pita, security guards and various Sydney consumer products the three and a half hours over for those unable to do so). I DO however, take issue with being taken advantage of, bullied with the power of “Jewish guilt” and the advice my Dad gave me all those years ago (“Always be a lady … You only get one reputation, don’t lose it”).

But now, the ramifications are clear – an innate inability to say ‘no’ aside, I am starting to wonder when this strange merry-go-round stops. I assumed when I was a teenager that completing high school would mean the end of check ups and check outs. When I finally did finish high school, I decided escaping to Israel would do the trick. But alack, I came back to 3 years of university at a campus with less than 50 Jewish students – and still. The JC was like a bad rash I couldn’t seem to get rid of. Finishing university was a milestone I really assumed would mean the end of childhood, time to strike our on my own, unhindered, unburdened by my JC. After Spending a year in Israel, I came home, expecting big changes. Bah Bong. Wrong again. If anything, it intensified interest, turning the heat up a notch.

“So, where are you going to work?”

“Found anyone special?”

“You should really consider going back to study”

“My daughter has an internship in Washington”

“Hmmm times are tough … Unemployed …?”

“No no, of course she wouldn’t mind babysitting … you see, she’s not really seeing anyone at the moment …”

 Maybe I’m just better suited to the cold. Winter in Jerusalem, Winter in Australia – it’s frosty, disinterested, alien landscape. The Icy intolerance perfect for skating over those irritating personal questions. Yep, I think I have found a place to hibernate – at least until Spring …


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