I was in the airport with my husband, and we were “bageled.” My husband looks obviously Jewish with his long beard and flowing tzitzit. Perhaps that’s why this happens to us often.

A teenager with multiple tattoos casually approached us and disarmingly wished us a “Shabbat Shalom!” Though it was a Wednesday afternoon, the teen was obviously letting us know that he, too, is a member of the tribe.

Jews have a powerful urge to connect with one another. You could “bagel” someone by telling them outright that you are Jewish. But often, bageling has more subtle forms, such as inserting a Jewish phrase into a conversation to determine whether another person is Jewish.

So, at the currency exchange line, an elderly man may whisper to you, “I could use more Chanukah gelt!” Or, in the supermarket, a nearby shopper picks up an item and says, “These remind me of my Bubby's matzah balls …”

What makes us feel the need to bagel? There are many theories.

Here is mine. When we see another Jewish soul—irrespective of how religious or affiliated we may be—a strong, inexplicable, perhaps mystical urge awakens our desire to connect with another part our own Divine core. It makes no difference if we are different ages, from different countries or at different levels of observance. We feel that intrinsic connection.

This week’s Torah portion, Tazriah, teaches us how deep that connection is with the commandment of circumcision.

On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (Lev. 12:3)

The Midrash Rabba describes an interesting exchange between Isaac and Ishmael.

Said Ishmael to Isaac: “I am more beloved to G‑d than you, since I was circumcised at the age of thirteen, but you were circumcised as a baby and could not refuse.”

Isaac retorted: “All that you gave up to G‑d was three drops of blood. But lo, I am now thirty-seven years old, yet if G‑d desired of me that I be slaughtered, I would not refuse.”

Circumcision is just one mitzvah that teaches us what being Jewish means. When a baby is circumcised, he is completely unaware of its significance. Circumcision is done precisely at an age when it is a non-experience because, explains the Rebbe, it is attesting that the Jew’s relationship with G‑d goes beyond what a person thinks, feels or does.

Jewishness is a fact that applies equally to an infant or a sage. It is a not a common race, culture or historical experience, nor is it a matter of life-style or self-perception. It is a state of being. We are Jews because G‑d chose us.

Whether or not we practice our Judaism—whether or not we even feel affiliated—there is something in our inner core that inexplicably whispers to us a fundamental, unchangeable truth: “I am a Jew!”

And bageling is one of the most interesting ways of showing that!