My Upcoming Not-Birthday
As most of you know, I was born on August 18, 1972. In that year, this date corresponded to the 8th day of Elul, which is the date written on my Israeli identity card as my birthday. That last bit irks me, since I was born at night, so technically it was no longer the 8th day of Elul, but the 9th. For most of my life, 9 Elul has been little more than a blip in my consciousness, but when I moved to Israel I considered, like many religious people, celebrating my date of birth in Elul rather than in August. The question of whether to celebrate one's Hebrew or English birthday (or both) is one of many small decisions that people like me weigh upon moving here, and I know that a lot of my friends are often ambivalent about it, sometimes using both birthdays as excuses to go out to dinner.
But I opted, when I made aliyah, to continue celebrating my birthday on August 18 every year. The religious Jew in me understands that the date may not be my "real" birthday; on the Jewish calenar, August 18 is meaningless. But I grew up in America, and I'm used to the English calendar, and I'm accustomed to celebrating the day of my birth on August 18, and so that is what I will continue doing. I am generally no more inclined to change the celebration of my birthday than I was to change my name. I offer no apologies for having grown up in a non-Jewish society and being used to various non-Jewish influences. This is simply who I am.
This year, however, my English birthday will fall not only very far from 9 Elul (we are still in the month of Av, for crying out loud), it will also fall in the middle of the disengagement from Gaza. Normally I post a birthday wish-list on the blog and remind everyone that my birthday is coming, because we all know how much I love gifts, and I am shameless. But this year, it would just be . . . gauche . . . to celebrate my birthday in the middle of the disengagement, when we all can do it just as easily in a month, when my Hebrew birthday will come 'round, and hopefully we'll have settled a bit into our post-disengagement reality, whatever that reality will be.
So, I'm asking my friends, family, and readers to please not offer me birthday greetings (or presents) on August 18 this year, but rather on 9 Elul, which happens to be on September 13. I'm hoping that by then, we'll be in our "new normal," and things like birthdays can go on as always.
(and yes, keep a lookout for my wishlist . . . I wouldn't dream of not posting one . . . . ) :-)