Tonight we're going to try our hand at being Jewish. There's a pizza party and bonfire to celebrate the uh, Simchat Torah, given by a local liberal ultra-reform Jewish community group, of which a friend of mine is currently president and sneakily persuasive in recruiting members. Plus I am a sucker. A curious sucker who would like to see if I can find the right communal fit for my Jewish ass because I've always wondered if there's a place in Jewish life for me. I am dragging myself and Bryan and the kids there despite my Teflon-like reaction to pretty much all organized religions.
As a Hebrew school drop-out (no Bat Mitzvah day, for me, ba da da da...) I flinch around practicing Jews. I flinch out of guilt. Jewish guilt. I used to hit the high holies with my parents when I was little but my Jewish education ended with my parents' divorce. Even though I was dragged to temple a few times in my youth, my parents did not love worshipping God. There was no passion to pass down to the next generation. It just didn't happen for me.
There was this one time, I was on my way to therapy on the Upper West Side, I mean how Jewish is that? And I was killing time in Barnes & Noble beforehand, leafing through some paged thing or another when the guy at the next table caught my eye and started talking to me. Eventually it came up that I was Jewish (okay now I'm having a senior moment and wondering if I've told you this story already... But it's not like I'm going to comb through my posts of yesteryear to confirm, who has the time?) Anyway, It also came up that I knew very little about my religion and I found myself sitting there being chastised for it by this Jewish stranger, for specifically not knowing where I came from, for not knowing the history of my people. Maybe I told him I was married to a goy?
Thank Yahweh I had my therapist to run to and work it through with. I marveled at how deeply affected I was by a stranger's negative judgment, but my therapist didn't. She knew my approval-seeking number. In the end I realized my people, if there is such a thing, are the people who get me, who accept me, who laugh at my jokes and support me no matter how Jewish I am.
So we'll see how it goes. I will try to be more open-minded than that raving lunatic at B&N all those years ago and give organized worship a chance. Who knows? Maybe I'll learn something interesting.
Now to find the perfect marshmallow sticks...