Thinking about the Jewpanese

The tag line for this blog is: A martial artist poet’s journey into the Jewpanese world. It was more of a mission statement when I when I wrote it, but I didn’t give it a lot of thought when I did. The pace of life often doesn’t let me reflect on this sort of thing as much as I would like, even if this was the kind of “brand” I thought I should become.

Maya is moving quickly towards three years and Sam is cruising towards three months. As Sam moves from being a newborn into full blown babyhood, some of his features are becoming more pronounced. His eyes are more like his mother’s, the Cymbalist eyes. His skin is definitely lighter than his sister’s, more white, less bronze. Still, they have things they share, and each, in their own way “looks” Jewpanese.

So what does this word mean—Jewpanese? Beyond its rather catchy exterior, what does it represent? We’re coming up on the Jewish High Holidays, and we’ve begun talking about what we’ll do for them. Rosh Hashanah comes during the work week, which means that I, as the goy parent, will go to work, do the things I normally do. This means that Becky will have to do much of the holiday preparations herself, which means with a three month old, things might be modified. And in about four months, I’ll be preparing for Oshogatsu (I was never really into the Obon thing) myself a week after Christmas, which is celebrated on my side of the family, but not on Becky’s. For the last couple of years, my meditations have centered around the holidays, but that really doesn’t speak to our day to day.

Every month, we get a book from the PJ Library, a subscription we started when Maya was born. These books all center around Jewish themes and the quality can range from terrible to sublime. Becky looks at them and decides which ones get to go into the book rotation and which ones don’t. The holiday books have more of a chance of making the cut, but books that obviously are Jewish versions of a popular book have less of a shot. We had a few Japanese folk tale/Japanese cultural children’s books, but often they were too advanced and have sat in a box waiting for Maya to be old enough. Recently, we got a book (courtesy of my cousin) of Japanese children’s stories, which Maya enjoys. At the same time, Maya has started to question this thing called “Japanese.”

She knows that she and I Japanese. I’ve told her that she and Mommy are Jewish. She is both. It might not be something that she totally understands right now, but I’m pretty confident she will. I wonder how Sam will take all this when it’s his turn. For us, their parents, they are both. They are everything. There is no either/or. It’s something we want them to embrace, and I suppose it is something I hope to convey as I keep writing.

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