At 18, this good Jewish girl got inked. In hindsight, I didn’t really put much thought into it, considering that it’s a decision that can last a lifetime. I was in a dramatic, spiritual phase and when I saw it in the portfolio at the parlor, I knew it was for me.Â So now it’s been 8 years, and honestly, sometimes I forget it’s there. Â But somehow, it represents so much more than â€œDestinyâ€.
Of course I had heard that with a tattoo, you cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Â Most 18 year olds think they’re invincible. Death wasn’t a major concern â€“ and so not something I worried about when I made the decision.Â A few years later, I was working at a synagogue and asked the Rabbi if the cemetery thing was true. He told me that it’s an old wives tale, something moms tell their kids to scare them or guilt them. I’m not sure that’s definitely the case. I’ve honestly never done any major research on the subject. I do know that it’s not the â€œJewishâ€ thing to do. And I know my parents are still not pleased with my choice.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted another tattoo.Â A Hamsa, the protective hand; a big, beautiful, filigreed hamsa… tramp-stamp. My sister talked me out of it. She wanted me to design a pendant to wear instead. Strangely enough, I found exactly what I was looking for in a necklace not long after & I wear it just about every day. But recently (again), I’ve wanted to make it permanent.
Only now, after making the conscious choice to work with the next generation of Jews, I’m not sure that’s the best decision. What kind of Jewish role model would I be with a big Jew-y tattoo on my back? There’s a fascinating argument about Jewish tattoos as a form of Jewish self-expression; an extension of modern Jewish identity. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, even as a Jew with a Tattoo. But maybe this is where my decision-making starts. Now I just have to figure out how to tell my momâ€¦