We’re a lonely lot, us Jews.
Call America multicultural and let everyone trump the importance of diversity, but ethnicities still divide along party lines. Many groups are interracial, most clubs are, and you’ll catch a mixed bag socializing at any corner of the cafeteria, but the Indian guy walks off with the Indian girl; those of Chinese extraction – no matter how many generations assimilated – belong to a fraternity that only accepts Chinese; the smiling Muslim girls walk all but arm-in-arm and operate like a pack, the Caribbeans slip into Patwa and leave everyone else out.
But not us Jews.
It almost makes me feel lonely when I arrive in class the first day and find, to my excitement, that there are two other Jews there – but I can’t speak to them. Or when I walk down the hall, catch a Jew’s eye, and then we both look away. Or the awkwardness of it when we exchange a few words.
It’s weird how it works. Right or wrong, I have few qualms about getting into a lengthy mathematical discussion with the Hispanic to my left or the Bosnian to my right, but plunk a guy in black and white next door and it’s like we don’t exist to each other.
It isn’t just me – I know plenty of college girls find it easier to talk to non-Jewish guys than Jewish ones. “It’s because the yeshiva guys are not supposed to be talking to me,” was the way one friend explained it. Kind of weird when you think about it. Maybe backwards, and possibly misguided. But that’s how it is.
I’ve been trying to figure out why. Is it just habit to avoid socializing with penguins, or is it because we’re more likely to get too friendly since we have more in common than with, say, a Guyanese?