Hi. TL:DR; I consider myself Jewish, and my mother is Jewish, but I’m afraid I won’t represent myself convincingly enough on a Birthright application/interview, or I won’t be able to prove my Jewishness.
I’m a 24 year old guy from the US with some Jewish background, and I’m interested in taking the Birthright trip to reconnect with that part of my history and to see Israel.
My grandma and her mother were Jews who fled from the USSR. My mom is pretty atheistic and doesn’t identify with a specific branch of Judaism, more just ethnically and culturally. I’d describe myself as agnostic. Neither of us every converted to any other religion, and my father isn’t religious either, so I don’t have any competing religious influence.
I grew up celebrating some holidays at home, mostly the Passover and Chanukah, but more of my Jewish cultural experience was through some family friends, who I believe were Orthodox. I’d often stay over and have dinner at their house on Friday night then go to a Shabbat service with them in the morning. We’d read from the Tanakh, but the only Hebrew I remember is one prayer/blessing(?) that my friends’ father would recite before eating.
My family moved away shortly after one of my friends had her bat mitzvah, when I was around 13, and I never had a proper bar mitzvah ceremony of my own. My mom’s health went downhill after that point and most of my connection to Jewish culture faded away. I’ve been to a synagogue once since turning 18.
I’ve been studying the Tanakh recently with a Jewish study Bible and from a more academic/historical perspective, and I listen to Yiddish music (which I partially understand). My mom visited Israel when she was younger, staying with friends, but I have no connection with the state or people there personally.
My direct family is pretty diverse, but Judaism is the only religious influence and I do identify as Jewish. I personally feel like I’m “Jewish enough” to be among the group the Birthright organization aims to target, but I don’t think other Jews would view me as a Jew.