My whole life, my family joked about us being Jewish-ish. My mom knew she had relatives from Jerusalem that were probably not Jewish, but with a name like Rueben, c’mon, Mom! We celebrated Pesach each year religiously (pun intended), and occasionally observed Rosh Hashanah, Purim, and other holy days. But my parents discouraged my brother and I from saying we were Jewish.
Last night, my mother and I were looking over old photo albums, and we found my great-great-grandparents. From Ellis Island forward, they were James and Reba Stanley. Before that? Jakob and Reba Stanzelbach (we all know who Jacob is; Reba is Hebrew for “fourth one” and was used as a diminutive of Rebecca on Russian Jewish communities). He was German; she was a Russian whose family “fled” Novgorod in the early 1900’s (gee, I wonder why???) They came to America in 1907.
After all these years, it feels like confirmation of something I have known forever. I want to take a DNA test and see if I have some Ashkenazi in me… If nothing else, I know where my grey eyes came from, my grandma, Jakob and Reba’s granddaughter.
There are no local Jewish communities where I live anymore. I have one Jewish friend. I feel so excited. This is the only place I could think to share this discovery.