We’ve all been there. You have your big final paper coming up. The one with as broad and vague a topic as can be. You’re overwhelmed. You have the whole universe of things tangentially related to the topic of your class to choose from.
This does not mean that you have to write about Judaism.
Maybe you’re in a class about Islamic art or Ancient Greek history. Do you know how many people have written papers about those things without comparing them to Judaism? Maybe you’re studying sociology or history of science. So write about those fields. Like, what is actually a part of those fields, not how they relate to the Jewish experience in America. Not every work of literature is analogous to the Torah. Not every scholarly dispute mirrors the Talmud. And not every great artist was secretly a Jew.
So much of European history happened to people who weren’t Jewish. So many scientific discoveries were made by people who had never met Jews. Symphonies were composed by men who had never heard a niggun. And plays were written by women who had never attended a seder. You can write about those things. At least some of the time, you can write about them.
Of course, you want to be proud of your Judaism. Of course, you want to write about what you know, what makes you feel connected to the topic. But, for your sake, as well as for your professors’, write a paper every once in a while that doesn’t relate to Judaism.
I know it’s a challenge. It means you’ll have to think for a minute or two, maybe even do some research, before you pick a topic. You’ll have to find new websites to read other than chabad.org and that one you found for your bat mitzvah speech about Jewish Women Who Changed the World, or whatever.
Trust me, when you reach the end, you just might be satisfied to see that you did it. For at least one week you won’t be “that Jew who wrote the Jew paper.” And damn, wouldn’t that feel great?