After an ill-fated game of tag on a Rosh Hashana afternoon (my nephew and I had collided with a sickening crunch), Eewok and I sat on the front steps as Luke tossed the ball to the rest of his offspring, baby in arm.
In the waning light of the day, there was a variety of foot traffic trecking by, topped with diverse head coverings. Suddenly, Eewok piped, "What are we?"
I knew what she meant, but pretended not to. "What do you mean?"
"Like, what are we?"
"You mean Jewish?"
"No, no, like, are we chassidish, are we yeshivish . . ."
"Well, we actually aren't anything."
"Huh? How can we not be anything?"
"We are something: We're Jews."
"Nothing else? Not chassidish or yeshivish?"
"Well, baby, we have some great-grandparents who were chassidish. And then we have some who weren't. That kind of cancels each other out."
She took this in, then asked, "What is chassidish?"
It's kind of difficult to explain chassidus to a seven-year-old, and as I struggled with descriptions of rebbes and sects I gave up. It was also impossible to quantify yeshivish. "You know what, booba? We're more alike than not. That's why I like to say that we aren't anything. Because once you have a label, there are also walls. 'I'm this, not that.' Jews are supposed to be all brothers and sisters, and once you start saying what else you are besides 'Jewish' then that gets lost. 'Chaverim kol Yisroel zu l'zu.' We are one, big family, see? So it's better that we're category-less."
"Oh." She was silent a moment, then turned to me and smiled, her multi-colored eyes bright with understanding. "Most of the girls in my class are category-less."
"Good!" I said, and snuggled her close. We then continued to watch the many Chaverim stream by.