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A question on Jewish identity

I’m a college student writing analysis on Art Spiegelman’s comic book titled Maus. It’s been out for decades and it’s a really good comic for those who haven’t read it. The whole premise of the book is Spiegelman is interviewing his father about his Holocaust experience for his comic and he chooses to draw different ethnicities into, well.. animals. Jews being mice, in particular.

There’s a particular part where Spiegelman, who usually portrays himself as a mouse for obvious reasons, has a human body and instead of his head being of a mice – it is of a human but he has a mouse mask instead. EDIT: As if he’s pretending to be Jewish. My bad. He’s obviously not pretending to be Jewish but just struggled telling his story because he wasn’t there to experience it and didn’t have his father to go in detail with.

So it made me think.

  1. Is there a different sense of Jewish identity for second/third/fourth descendants of Holocaust survivors, like Spiegelman vs the Jews who lived outside of Mainland Europe for generations prior to the Holocaust? (I’m talking in places not incl. Israel).
  2. Is this feeling the same for Orthodox Jews or do you think this is more of secular Jew issue since the Orthodox/Conservative have ethnicity+religion aspects to their identity and it is two-fold meanwhile for secular Jews, they only have the ethnicity. I am aware that they are free to enter the religious world anyway.

b) If this is the case, is this because secular Jews feel they are not ‘fully’ because they never experienced Nazi-level antisemitism or even the rampant anti-semitism in the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods?

I’m not saying there is no anti-semitism now, of course. This might be mostly an Ashkenazi Jewish thing – might be wrong.

Please feel free to call me out on any of my thoughts because I’ve never had the opportunity to ask any Jewish person this but also I can imagine it varies a lot.

submitted by /u/FemaleEinstein
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