OPINION: Why Didn’t Anyone Tell me Max Weinstein Was Jewish!?

March 8, 2009 3:58 pm
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By Joel Weinstein

JERUSALEM—I like to think I’m a reasonable person. I know how to think, I can make logical inferences about the world, and on rare occasions I’ve even been known to think outside of the box, but last Thursday I was shocked when, while looking through the local Directory of Jews, I found the name of my close friend and relative Max Weinstein. I’ve known Max for years, but I never had any idea he was Jewish. Upon making this discovery, I immediately asked my friends Aaron Rosenberg and Steven Freidman if they knew Max was Jewish. I couldn’t believe it—they laughed at me, saying, “Of course we knew Max was Jewish—everyone knows it. I mean, just look at his name—he’s Max Weinstein.”

Upon hearing this, I took a step back—how could everyone but me know this about my closest friend? Maybe Max and I weren’t as close as I thought. Maybe I should’ve known he was Jewish. Looking back, I guess all the clues were there the whole time. I knew Max’s grandparents fled from the Nazis during WWII, but I assumed it was because they were gypsies. Even stranger, Max never wanted to go out with me on Friday nights. But I attributed that to his personality (Max is very awkward and always seems to be studying). Even though I had seen these and other clues, I still had no idea my best friend was Jewish. If I hadn’t stumbled upon that Jew Directory, I might never have found out the truth about Max Weinstein.

If I didn’t know about this, what else don’t I know? Are any other members of my family Jewish? What about Aaron or Steven? Could they be Jews as well? How much am I missing? In a world where anyone’s religion, even that of your best friend, cannot be known, how are we to function?

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