Identity in Venice
Does the chicken come before the egg or does the egg come before the chicken? With identity, it’s not always easy to tell how identities rank. I know for myself, I strongly identify as culturally Jewish, but not as the nationalities of my Jewish ancestors.
While walking around Dorsoduro, a district of Venice, our guide and I got into a discussion about identities. He was remarking that he can be Venetian first and then Italian, like the Russian nesting dolls. I disagreed and said that you could feel more strongly about the country you live in, rather than the city.
“Do you like tiramisu?” he said.
“No, I like panna cotta,” I said.
“Do you like spaghetti? Wait, no, which is your favorite pasta?” he said.
“I like tagliatelle,” I said.
“Well, you can’t have both all of the time, and you don’t want both all of the time. You want one sometimes, and the other sometimes. You could have both for a meal, but you won’t have them for every meal,” he remarked.
I think I take this as a sort of explanation for the fluidity of identity. I hadn’t really thought of it this way, but it makes sense. When I am in Romania or at a Donauschwaben ball, I feel more German, more Donauschwaben. Similarly, when I’m at synagogue, I feel more in-sync with being Jewish. I do think that I feel more connected to being American and being Jewish than anything else, but it’s interesting to think of the “scales” to which I feel my identities.