Little Green Flags

There’s a little green flag sitting on my desk at work; one of those push-pin kinds of things. I’m supposed to write my initials on it and stick it on a map that’s affixed to a bulletin board. I’m supposed to stick it on the country of my heritage, and next week, I am supposed to prepare a dish for a potluck lunch, and that dish is supposed to represent the country under my little green flag.

And I don’t know where to stick my little green flag.

Well, you’re going to just stick the flag on Israel, right? Because you’re Jewish. Is what somebody said to me.

I’m Jewish, not Israeli, I replied.

And not everybody in Israel is Jewish. And the people around me were sticking all sorts of little flags on top of all sorts of countries. But I couldn’t find Jewish, so my flag is still sitting on my desk.

I guess my heritage is Jewish, because being Jewish accounts for a lot of the things I believe and the way I act in certain situations. But my Catholic friend is not looking for Catholic on a map, even though being Catholic accounts for a lot of the things she believes in, and the way she acts in certain situations.

If I was still in Israel and we were having a heritage potluck lunch, I would stick my flag on Canada and bring in maple fudge. But in Canada, I’m not called Canadian. I’m called Jewish.

I’ve also been called, You People, and I can’t find You People on the map either.
It must be next to Jewish.



  1. my dad's family is from Poland, and so i used to say that my background is Polish (our family does observe a lot of Polish traditions). But i was born in Canada, and my heritage is Canadian, so that's where i would stick my flag (i'd also bring in something i eat on a regular basis here in Canada ;)

  2. This is so interesting because I have the same problem but I am not Jewish or Catholic so I don't even have that. My family has been in Canada since the 1600's and when stuff like this happens I don't know what to do. People ask, "what are you?" and I answer, "Canadian." But that is never enough and they always want to know more but there isn't anything more. My family is Canadian and they have been forever. That's it.

    I agree, stick your flag right here in Canada and bring some maple goodness.

  3. It's getting trickier all the time - how long is your family here before "Canadian" IS your heritage? How about if you are from mixed background, as so many people are, more and more? Do you get two green flags? Or, er, FOUR, if like me, you have Norwegian, Swiss, Irish, and British ancestry? Or yes, if you identify more with traditions that have less to do with country, then this nationalism can feel like it is a little limiting.

  4. SOOOO interesting. Also, for me, one flag isn't enough.

    I am Jewish, yes, but does that work for my heritage? or just my religion? I certainly would NOT choose Israel; it doesn't work...not even a little bit. Israeli and Jewish are not interchangeable.

    On my mom's side, I am first generation American - she was born in Austria and her parents were born in Germany and Poland. On my dad's side, I'm third-generation American - he was born there, his parents were born there.

    So...what does that make me?? A mutt?

  5. i am a chicana from the the west/southwest so i would have a hard time finding a place for my flag. people always ask, "when did your family immigrate to the US?" dude, my family was here before the US was the US.

    maybe we should ditch those flags.

  6. That has always been a tricky area for me as well. My father is Polish, my mother is Romanian, I was born in Austria but moved to Canada when I was an infant. So what am I?? Well, Canadian is what I've settled with. Truly a multi-cultural Canadian. I say stick your flag in Canada.

  7. In addition to what Ali said, if you go with mutt, I still couldn't tell you where to put the flag, but then you could bring a bottle of Heinz57 and call it a day.

    I hate office functions.

  8. I am not Jewish, but I am a whole lot of other things, none of which I really relate to. At what point does one cease to be Norwegian-Swedish-German-Polish-...., and just become Canadian? Do my children earn the privilege, with even more hyphens including First Nations heritage? If not them, then who?

    I might resort to dropping by Tim Horton's and picking up some donuts if it were me. Because really, WHO would complain about donuts?

  9. Auntie JennoNovember 13, 2010

    Being your full blood sister, I know that when questions like this arise (and they do in my tiny mountain town frequently) I just go with Romanian. Grandma Bessie was born there and I just say she was a Jewish Gypsy because, well it sounds good. And you could bring cabbage rolls. But donuts sound good too.

  10. See, if we're talking FOOD, I eat traditionally Jewish food. But where did they come from? I'm Irish and Eastern European. Too many countries to list make me who I am. It's not so simple.

  11. I think most of us have some sort of 'mixed' heritage.

    I'd say don't think too hard about this and pick a country that represents a PART of your heritage and go with that...so in other words, pick the dish and then pick the country! ;)

  12. Aw heck, I'd need 6 flags (isn't that a theme park?) and up to 11 flags if I was to count my families religious background and the places I grew up.
    As I recall the census form was similar, needed to pick an ethic origin other than Canadian to identify myself.

    I am Canadian and proud of it. It's where I'd stick my flag, especially since maple fudge is so darn yummy.

    I say go with that and save me some of that fudge :)

  13. geez I think I would need at least 5 different flags- which would then mean I would need to bring at least 5 different dishes!

    I say stick one on Toronto and call it a day.
    (I like the maple fudge idea too with maybe a side of kugel?...)

    Oh and can I come to your potluck lunch?
    sounds fun

  14. you are a Romanian Gypsy. I should have known....
    This is one of those activities that make me want to bash my head against the wall because don't we know better? yet, the organizers just wanted it to be a fun 'FUN!" way for everyone to share.
    Bring what you want and stick that flag on the dumbass who thinks you are Israeli.

  15. Where do you work? Dunder Mifflen? HOwever you spell it...


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