16 July 2007

Home... home again...

Another friend's LJ entry entitled Home? (written several months ago but only read by me just now) continues the excellent trend of intelligent commentary on and wrestling with the concept of home -- I recommend it highly!

And here's part of what I had to say in response:

I've always enjoyed saying I'm a one-quarter-Cuban Jew with an Irish last name. (Though now, especially in the wake of the recent Folklife Festival showcasing Northern Ireland as one of its 3 areas, I know that the preferred term these days is Ulster Scots, for what might previously have been called Scots-Irish.) How very American!

One of the toasts at my parents' wedding (from one of my dad's college roommates) was "Here's to hybrid vigor" -- and I think you, my dear Safiri, and yours truly (as well as my friends K, L, and M [really! those are their initials!] who were all at the Folklife Festival with us 2 weeks ago and who all have mixed Ashkenazi Jewish + British Isles WASP heritage like m'self and yerself) are delightful testaments to the efficacy of same.

But given that fact, and because I am a practicing Jew who is also:
  • a feminist who regards gender-and-sexual-orientation-egalitarianism as Completely Non-Negotiable in my Jewish life & Jewish community;
  • devoted to separation of religion & state and does not wish to live anywhere with an established religion, be it mine or somebody else's;
  • in love with the idea of America as a land based in a shared dream rather than shared blood or land, however badly we may seem to betray that idea;
...I don't think I'll ever feel "at home" anywhere other than the U.S., on a permanent basis (and only certain parts of it at that).

But I probably am most at home in the imagined community of People Who Love The Things I Love -- books and talking, mostly, but also music and good food and companionship, intellectual discussion and debate and beauty, engaging with traditions (literary, religious, artistic, textual, musical, social) and our reshaping of them --

one of the things I like about Diaspora Judaism is the treatment of texts and rituals as a portable homeland. They're my Zion much more than the geographical Mount Zion ever was or will be. I'm not in exile in the diaspora: I'm home.

I'm not pining to return to any patch of ground that was never my home -- however green and pleasant (Dad's dad's side, British Isles), proud of its golden century/siglo de oro of exploration and world domination (Dad's mom's side, Cuban & originally from Spain) or flowing with milk and honey (Mom's side, Jewish) it may be. I may acknowledge my ties of heritage and affection to them, and I'm grateful that they might in some cases acknowledge my familial connections to them in return--but they're not my home.

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