"I Don't Look Jewish"

in which I make a case for my own death by anti-Semite. 

Katie Krantz

Shoot me first. 

            If you want to kill us, 

            Shoot me. 


The Midrash (explanation):


My skin is like swedish snow, 

My hair the color of a German apple strudel. 

I look white-- 

            “Aryan” is what they call it. 


But my blood flows with Torah. 

You’ll kiss a girl who doesn’t look Jewish 

            But tastes like apples and honey, 

            Brisket and matzoh. 


I’ll cry the sound of the Shofar--

            A ram’s horn call that cries out 

            A hundred names for God. 


I think I can walk safely 

            With my star tucked into my shirt. 

But eleven dead reminds me

            That I hide in plain sight. 


Eleven dead rings in my head 

            And whispers, “your family,”

            Because there aren’t many of us. 

I’ll start the mourner’s Kaddish

            With the sunrise. 


But will I still be there?


I see how they look at my father--

            His hooked nose, 

            His dark hair, 

            His obvious Jewishness.

I see how they look at us,

            But not me. 


I’ll see twenty alone. 


I can picture it now--

            When the next synagogue falls 

            I’ll stand in front of a Church 

            And call to God. 

It’s that damned Kaddish again. 


At first, I’ll look like a baptist

            Speaking in tongues. 

But my hair will curl in the heat, 

            My voice will be relieved in Hebrew. 

            My fingers will be dusted with flour 

            From braiding challah. 


You once told me how you thought 

            That tribalism could only hurt. 

You said traditions matter less

            With each passing year. 

Maybe that’s true-- 

            But the death of eleven close strangers

            Makes my heart cry otherwise. 


So to the man who wants to kill a Jew, 

            Test your hatred out on me. 


When I’m in the sights 

            Of a .5mm gun,

            I’ll look just like your daughter--

            Young, blonde, human--

            With a rabbit’s heart in my chest. 


If you want to kill a Jew--

            Take me first. 


Don’t let me hide in plain sight--

            I’ll go first. 


Forget the Hasidics, the Orthodox. 

            Leave their black coats alone. 


Take instead--

            Your sister’s best friend,

            Your son’s babysitter,

            Your very own half-blooded, 

                        All Jewish cousin. 

                        A reflection of you. 

Shoot me first. 


Look me in the eyes and prove

It’s the Jew you hate, 

Not the unknown other. 


I’ll step forward. 


Start the Kaddish at sunrise. 

Katie Krantz is a young writer and student at the University of Virginia. She is from Atlanta, Georgia, and focuses on the intersection of her Southern and Jewish identities. She has been published in McSweeny's, the Tulane Review, and Ink & Voices, among other journals.