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December 27, 2010
Reprinted with permission from Alef: The NEXT Conversation.
I started writing this intro after a particularly horrific experience. I had just broken up with a Hispanic guy after he told me he didn't want to join me and my Israeli friends on a trip to Coney Island because he didn't want to "go to the beach and hang out with Shylock and Company." My jaw had never dropped harder to the floor. Not knowing he secretly harbored resentment and prejudice towards Jews I was stunned, horrified, and in a panic. Without a second of hesitation I told him off and dumped him right there for perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes, callously dismissing and putting down my friends, and mostly for disrespecting himself.
You might think this situation would send me running back into the muscular arms of my "chosen men." While it may seem "easier" to marry someone Jewish to avoid a situation like this again, that is not the reality. No matter who I am with, if he harbors any prejudice towards any group of people, I am immediately disgusted.
When I asked my dad about marrying a non-Jewish Puerto Rican woman, he said that for him it was a non-issue, that she did everything she could to learn about Judaism to pass it on to her kids. My Puerto Rican mother, who became the leader of Shabbat in our household, says she was not intimidated by my father's differences but rather intrigued. She embraced them and together they made their own special blend of culture and faith. In our house we had fusion food before it was a chi-chi, overpriced concept. Latkes with rice and beans was my lifestyle (and it was delicious). This taught me the simple (and slightly corny) lesson of "don't hate, celebrate."
My monologue comes from that lesson along with my struggle to accept who I am and where I came from. I wouldn't call myself an ethnic Jew because it sounds redundant…I would say I'm a multi-cultural Jew. A tapestry of several shapes and colors; a mixed salad with many different flavors. I am a Jew of European and Sephardic descent and Hispanic, and 1/8th African and from the mid-west, and a woman, and a brunette, and a wise-ass, and an actor, and a writer, and a comedian and at times, a lil' crazy. I'm a friggin' United Colors of Benetton ad-campaign.
As Agueda Ramirez, my best friend and fellow actor/writing partner said to me, "You're a party mix. You're not just potato chips. You're a Dorito with a pretzel stick with a peanut, with whatever else is in party mix. Some people don't like mixing their chips with their party mix. And that's okay. You just keep being party mix."
I-am-party mix. Dig in.