Finding My Jewish Family At 38

There are three things I’ve learned thus far on my Jewish journey:

  1. You cannot argue with scientific facts.
  2. You definitely cannot argue with my Jewish grandmother.
  3. Jewish Brunch = bagels, lox, fruit and assorted pastries.

While I’ve already been blessed with an amazing family through adoption, my family has now expanded to include several biological relatives too. It only took me 38-plus years, a couple of DNA tests, and a few thousand miles to meet my very own Jew Crew. These tribe members span across three different countries and both coasts of the U.S. During a period of two weeks, I met roughly 80 percent of my paternal family, including my biological father, paternal grandparents, an uncle and more cousins than I can count.

On these adventures I was joined by my best friend for Round 1, and my husband for Round 2. We were all welcomed with open arms by everybody. I have never been hugged so many times in such a short time span with the exception of my wedding day! The most incredible part of these experiences was the feeling of familiarity I had while among complete strangers, who are now part of my family. There is nothing quite like it.

When meeting my biological tribe members, I noticed the many commonalities some of us shared: Our sense of humor, quirkiness, love of dogs, focus on food, love of vodka and wine, the gift of gab, and our appreciation for education. I also observed many qualities that I did not inherit, but wish I had, such as: a strong business sense, math skills, athleticism, artistic abilities, and a green thumb.

As part of my journey, I have become acutely aware that you cannot separate from your roots. They are always there, growing with you. Your roots are part of who you are, even if you are unable to see them. Although I am adopted, there are parts of me that grew from these Jewish roots. I have now had the opportunity to meet so many people who came from the same tree and roots, and that has been invaluable to me.

While my experience has not been a fairytale by any means, it sure does make for a good story; one as interesting as any modern day soap opera or reality TV show. I am so happy to belong to this cast of characters who are kind and loving, and best of all, part of me.

This chapter of my Jewish journey has just begun. I am looking forward to strengthening these newly formed relationships and learning more about my historical heritage from those who know best.