Matrilineal, Patrilineal, Schmatrilineal?

Yeah, I know there’s a huge debate about Jewish identity. BUT Matrilineal, Patrilineal, Schmatrilineal, I’ve got a better test. Let’s say you find yourself wandering around a strange city in a state of total amnesia. Who am I? Where am I and why do I feel an intense irresistible craving for a thinly sliced, tongue sandwich on pumpernickel, garnished with mustard and pickle? Am I Jewish? Christian? Buddhist? Ah, listen to your stomach and never mind rummaging through your wallet. That tongue sandwich will lead you home. YES - You ARE Jewish. And just in case you have Religious Identity Amnesia without TSC (Tongue Sandwich Craving), here are some absolutely valid discriminators. Answer at least half of them with a “YES!” and you’re one of us.

  1. You’re having a quick, plate lunch at a diner. Turkey, dressing, and two vegetables. You finish - mop your mouth with the napkin and then notice you’ve left a couple spoonfuls of dressing. A glowing picture of your mother appears in the plate. She’s frowning. You finish the dressing, plus two rolls you left in the basket, and leave with a satisfied smile.
  2. You lose consistently with your bookie because you always bet on the underdog. You NEVER bet on the Yankees, Notre Dame, the Denver Broncos or Evander Holyfield. If the odds were right, you’d take your Rebbe vs Holyfield on a first round KO.
  3. The last Republican your family supported was Abraham (“Who wouldn’t vote for Avraham?”) Lincoln.
  4. In your Wednesday night poker club, there’s a twenty minute debate over the winner, following each hand. Five players - five judgements. “A straight flush doesn’t necessarily beat a pair of 8’s,” says Benny, “if you won the hand before”. . .and so on.
  5. For some reason you feel more comfortable with Italian Catholics than WASPS. You call Ravioli, Creplach; and Italian Sausage, Stuffed Kishke. You love the Pope’s kipah.
  6. At the facility where you worship there’s a Rabbi’s clique, a president’s clique, a sisterhood clique, a “we want chicken salad instead of tuna” clique, and a janitor’s clique - headed by the janitor - who demands a 200% raise, no window washing, and a hamentashen discount on Purim.
  7. Even though you’ve just returned from a business trip, you’ll interrupt the TV movie, or even more exhilarating entertainment you’re enjoying with your spouse, for a 30-minute telephone listen to your mama. “Your Marilyn may be a gem, but a hard boiled egg in Tsimmus? Never,” says Mama. She’ll be there in twenty minutes with the real thing.
  8. Your 15 year old son calls you by your first name. You lecture him about paternal respect. Your 7 year old daughter calls you “Sweetie” and you love it. You’re already hating her husband.
  9. You read a lot more Isaac Bashevis Singer than Hemmingway. And you’d rather relax with a bio of Henrietta Szold than Alexander the Great.
  10. All your life you’ve thought Charleton Heston was Jewish.
  11. You only started buying Fords in the ‘60’s.
  12. Every time you read about a serial murderer, you fervently pray he’s not Jewish.
  13. At the company picnic, you use bagels instead of horseshoes.
  14. As you riffle through the mail, you see a letter from VISA to your wife accompanying a replacement credit card. “Since your old card has been thinned to a sliver by repeated purchases, we take the liberty of enclosing three new ones.” Depressed, you rush to the frig, push aside a 6-pack of Bud Lite, and grab a jar of pickled tomatoes. You only use hard liquor for disinfectant purposes.
  15. You’ve never, in your whole life, despite years of urging from Christian friends, put MAYO on a corned beef sandwich.

One more test: When you married - did your mother, that first year, claim you’d lost ten pounds? Did she smuggle in a roast chicken spiced with onions and garlic sewed in the upholstery of her old couch from the den? She did? You’re Jewish, no matter how many of the above you missed.