Many American Jews are unaffiliated with Judaism. Some do not observe Jewish rituals in any regular way; others might not worship at all. And yet Jewishness still pervades their lives: in food, in attitude, in ways of speaking, and — of course — in that wry sense of humor that is marked by self-deprecation and a slight satirical impulse. What contemporary poet speaks for those of us who do not know Yiddish or Hebrew, who do not attend services, who eat BLTs, and who might even go shopping on Yom Kippur?
Enter poet Kim Dower, whose latest poetry collection is a Jewishly infused valentine to her mother, to all mothers, and to “everyone who has a mother.”
Grounded in an early memory that functions as a warning — “Don’t get used to this” — the title poem describes a Jewish identity that is almost assimilated but that nonetheless proclaims itself: