I have to confess that I had little to no awareness of Jewish culture when I moved to New York, short of having read a few books like Number the Stars as a kid. There are simply not very many Jews in New Mexico, and aside from a childhood friend named Rachel who was culturally Jewish but didn't know much about that heritage, and two short-term college roommates who halfheartedly tried to keep kosher with their three Gentile compatriots (at least we had 2 fridges?), I was clue-free about the Chosen People until I moved to New York. I've had many Heebpiphanies, if you will, from my first real bagel to realizing my coworker whose last name was Levy was not, in fact, a light-skinned Latino (of which there are many in New Mexico). Even now, I usually become aware of approaching Jewish holidays via facebook, or in this case, my lovely delivery grocery store, Fresh Direct (order now! we will sell out of Rosh Hashanah meals!).
I love living here, where people of so many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds coexist in relative peace - a politically correct, sometimes slightly hostile peace, but peace just the same. That is a fact I won't take for granted after trying to educate myself about Syria this week. There was a graphic that caught my eye that purported to explain why the conflict got started: a color-coded map showing all the different religious and ethnic sects living in close proximity. I suspect a map of Queens would look much the same. So...there but for the grace of (fill in the blank with your preferred higher power) go we. Still...there must be a way. But I think peace has to be the goal, not just a byproduct of some other goal.
To that end, to my Jewish friends, and all friends who wish to celebrate peace and new beginnings, from your Shiksa friend, with love:
may we all have peace and sweet
apples and honey