Feeling Oneself to be a Jew?

Emil Cioran felt himself to be a Jew.
“The only people to whom I relate
are Jews,” he said. “We share our imperfections.” You
have got to love someone who does not hate
his imperfections, recognizing they’ve created
a person’s nature, making him or her
fully human, and don’t feel deflated
when contradicted by those who demur,
deploring something that you might have said
or written, since they realize that crit-
icism of what’s from you they’ve heard or read
may often be the highest form of wit.
These stay with you however hard you try
to make them go. Accepting them like fate
is better than attempting to deny
the reality that they create,
as Jews so often do, attempting to
be who they aren’t, which Cioran didn’t do,
just feeling like a Jew while knowing who
he was, though basically he had no clue.

Benjamin Ivry (“J’accepte,” Forward, 4/8/11) writes about Emil Cioran (“J’Accepte,” Forward, 4/8/11):

After the war, Cioran actively supported the tormented Romanian-born Jewish poet and Holocaust survivor Celan, despite the difficulties of coping with Celan’s ongoing mental illness.

In 1965 Cioran wrote “I am metaphysically Jewish,” which he followed in 1969 with: “The only people I relate to deeply are Jews. We share the same imperfections.” His further metaphysical reflection in 1970, “The refusal of Christianity by the Jews can only be termed brilliant,” is topped by the following mordant ethical critique of European character: “The only good folks in Germany were Jews. Now that they are dead, all that remains is a kind of monstrous Belgium.”

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at