The chicken soup will always triumph
I am a hardcore, born and bred, Brent cross-shopping, Northern line-riding, Dignity-schmoozing, fro yo-eating, North West Londoner.
But now in my second year at university, I have once again fled my comfy, washed ‘n’ ironed nest and moved to East London, in an effort to prove to myself I am far cooler than I actually am.
Even though I tick the two alternative boxes that qualify me for hipsterdom - living in Shoreditch and going to art school - my chicken soup will always come first.
Having done an art foundation course, where I was the only Jew in the class, I am now studying for a BA, where I am still the only Jew in the class.
I live in student halls, where I am “the only Jew in da crew”, and still attend Friday night dinners - whether that be through London JSoc, along with my Jewish friends in London, or occasionally going home to see my family.
I have unintentionally managed to create for myself two very different lives: one, involving alcohol and the other, smoked salmon and cream cheese.
On Friday, I am treif by day, kosher by night.
Admittedly, my dedication to the tribe has provoked some questions that I may have not given the most intelligent of answers to.
“So you don’t keep any of the Jewish rules…but you’re not atheist?”
“No!” I retort. “You don’t have to keep anything at all and you can still be Jewish!’
But I do represent the community as best I can. I’ve brought non-Jewish friends back for Friday night dinner, handed out Chanucah gelt and hamantachen, and insisted everyone visit Anne Frank’s house on a class trip to Amsterdam.
I suggested my friend visit Auschwitz on her inter-railing trip, I rock a jew-fro, and I practically force challah and bagels down my friends’ throats. So what if I have the odd fry up?
I have to accept that my university friends will never understand why I spent 59p on a Yiddish Slang app, the fact that I have a virtual menorah on my iPad, or that a 13-year-old’s birthday party is an excuse for a new dress.
But that’s ok: why should they?
In my mind, I am living two separate lives, each with different people and different values that rarely mix.
But the reality is that, however much bacon I am surrounded by, my Jewish identity comes with me wherever I go.
It only strengthens and proves to me that the chicken soup will always triumph.
Trust me: the proof is in the Palwins.
Ella Stern is a 20-year-old student studying jewellery design at Central Saint Martins. Follow her blog at curlyspiel.blogspot.co.uk.