13 Struggles of Being Jewish, But Not Religious

Well guys it’s that time of the year again. You know, the time where all people want to talk about is the impending holidays and how EXCITED THEY ARE FOR CHRISTMAS. The problem: You’re Jewish and you’re still not over the fact that Summer has somehow come and gone and you now have to start wearing a heavy jacket.

The only claim to fame I have of being “Really Jewish” is that one of my brothers, who can’t resist a party (and also money), decided to become a real Jew when he was 13 and had a Bar Mitzvah. Other than that, one time my dad forced me to go to temple while my brother was doing his one-year Jewish stint and I cried. I cried on the way there, while there, and also after. Religion — not my thing. But being Jewish? Totally my thing. However, being “Jewish, but not really Jewish” is a struggle. Here are 10 things you probably struggle with, like me, if you share my really weird non-religious situation.

1. When people go “Oh you’re not religious… So you’re, like, an Atheist.” No. I’m not an Atheist. I’m Jewish. I’m just not religious. Do I know what I believe in? No. But did I go to summer camp? Yes. So leave me alone.

2. The anger that ensues when someone assumes you’re a 50/50 Jew. You are not a 50/50 Jew. Both of your parents are Jewish. *Cue amazement of people you tell this to.* Yes everyone, you’re really 100% Jewish. You just don’t know what Shabbat means. It’s fine.

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3. When people ask you anything regarding Jewish holidays. You. don’t. know. Today is a Jewish holiday??? Wow, it would be nice if your Catholic co-workers could have informed you of this the day prior so you could have used the Jewish excuse to take the day off. YOU JUST WANT TO COUCH.

4. People always assume you went to Jewish summer camp, but you didn’t — you went to non-religious summer camp. Obvs you still went to summer camp. Just not with the Jewishy-Jews.

5. Everything you know about the Jewish religion, you know thanks to Rugrats. THE MACCABABIES EPISODE. You know what I’m talking about.

6. Celebrating Hanukkah means putting out a pretty Menorah as a decoration on your entryway table that you got at Bed Bath and Beyond and forgetting to light it seven out of the eight days of the holiday. Oh well, you tried. Maybe next year.

7. When people start talking about Christmas at work or anywhere really. Ugh, you never know what to say. You don’t want to exclaim you’re excited for Christmas too because even if you celebrate Christmas, which you most likely do, you can’t just come out and say that because people will look at you like you have ten heads and then you’ll have to explain that your family gets together on Christmas and does the whole “presents” thing and has a nice dinner, but you don’t “celebrate” Christmas per say. It’s a whole process you don’t want to start. Back to Pandora.

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8. Fasting? No thanks. You claim you’re going to try it every time your religious friend tells you they’re doing it, just because, you know, weight loss. But then you don’t because breakfast called and it wants you to eat it. Omg, cottage cheese.

9. The whole Christmas tree thing. Especially if you are roommates with people who want a Christmas tree. Like, it sounds exciting but then you might go in on one and it’s actually a ton of fucking work. You are the type of Jew who wants to do as little work as possible while maintaining a fat ass bank account — and you can’t do either of those if you pay money for a tree and then have to decorate it.

10. When people say you don’t look Jewish. Is that a good thing? Or is that a bad thing? You’re never really sure how to take that statement… Not everyone looks like they’re religion. Take Jason Biggs for example. He looks Jewish as fuck. The catch: He is not. But how? No one knows.

11. There are between one and four Jews in your entire group of friends. You grew up as Token, confusing all of your friends as to what being Jewish actually meant. You didn’t have a Bat or Bar Mitzvah and you didn’t know many people who did. You’ve only been to, like, three or four in your lifetime. NBD.

12. Whenever in the presence of a rabbi, you cannot stop yourself from giggling. Seriously. At my grandmother’s Shiva, I started laughing, therefore causing my dad to laugh, then my GRANDFATHER, then everyone else. What is wrong with me? No one knows. Just can’t take the whole prayer thing seriously.

13. Marrying a Jew? If that’s the way things work out, sure. But a Jewish wedding? Nahhhh, you’re all set. Although the whole glass stomping and chair raising thing seem hilarious, you just couldn’t do it. You’d laugh through your entire ceremony, which you might do anyway because whyyyyyyyy does it have to be sooooo serious. RELIGION IS JUST SO FUNNY. EVERYTHING IS JUST SO FUNNY. SORRY.

However, if I was to marry this guy, I would do whatever…

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<3 SETH COHEN <3

[Special to the three featured guys above for being the best Jews ever… SCHMIDT, SCOTT, & SETH… THE TRIFECTA OF S’S… I AM DATING ALL OF THEM]

Samantha Matt

Hi I’m Sam. I made this website in 2011 and it’s still going. My first book, AVERAGE IS THE NEW AWESOME, is coming out in January (you can buy it right now on Amazon or from your fave bookstore!). I like pizza, French fries, barre, spin, more pizza, more French fries, and buying clothes. Writing is fun. Follow me on twitter & Instagram at @samanthamatt1... and on this site's meme account on IG at @20somethingproblems. OKAY GREAT THANKS BYE.

1 Comment
  1. For future reference:
    Actors of fully Jewish background: -Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julian Morris, Adam Brody, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Gabriel Macht, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lisa Kudrow, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Debra Messing, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Margarita Levieva, Elizabeth Berkley, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel, Skylar Astin, Mia Kirshner, Alden Ehrenreich, Eric Balfour, Jason Isaacs, Jon Bernthal.

    Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers -Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, James Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Emmy Rossum, Rashida Jones, Jennifer Connelly, Nora Arnezeder, Goldie Hawn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Amanda Peet, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman, Ben Barnes, Patricia Arquette, Kyra Sedgwick, Dave Annable.

    Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: -Andrew Garfield, Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, Nicola Peltz, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Winona Ryder, Ben Foster, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron, Jonathan Keltz.

    Oh, and Ansel Elgort’s father is Jewish, though I don’t know how Ansel was raised.

    Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism -Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

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