Creative Nonfiction by Queer Writers
Edited by Jim Tushinski and Jim Van Buskirk
Now available from Harrington Park Press



by Jim Van Buskirk

     I had been looking forward to visiting the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust since I read about it some months previously. As I approached this new museum with the cumbersome name in Manhattan's Battery Park, I noticed the unusual hexagonal-shaped structure with its six-tiered roof, and was reminded of the six points of the Star of David and the estimated six million who perished in the Holocaust. The first time I tried to enter, the museum was inexplicably closed, so a few days later I tried again.
     I wound my way through the peculiarly circuitous security leading in to the museum. Upon entering the first hall I heard music and followed it to the rotunda, where images were being projected on to walls all around the large room. Color and black-and-white, contemporary and archival, the still and moving images of the Jewish experience, traditional and modern, flooded and flowed across the walls. I watched as a bridegroom smashed the glass under the chuppa, as a fiddler played in a Polish shtlel, as well-dressed children dance and romp, as an old woman wrapped herself in a prayer shawl. Suddenly I began weeping. What was it, I wondered, that was affecting me so?

     I am familiar with aspects of the Jewish tradition.
     "Are you Jewish?" a visitor once asked, noticing the brass Menorah on my windowsill.
     "No," I answered. "I've just had one too many Jewish boyfriends."
     But I had to confess it is a question that has haunted me most of my life. In addition to having had several Jewish boyfriends, the preponderance of my women friends are Jewish. I have counted out the plagues at Passover Seders, eaten oily latkes at Hanukkah parties, been moved by the Kol Nidre at Yom Kippur services. I enjoy eating matzoh brie, blintzes, humatashen, challah bread, and gefilte fish. Yiddishisms inadvertently sprinkle my speech. I light candles over the eight nights of Hanukkah and struggle through the prayer: Baruch ata adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam... I confess, I've been accused of being a "Macca-wanna-bee."