First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Friday, October 1, 2010

Jew . . .ish

We’re looking for a religion.  There, I said it now.  It’s out there.
We’re doing it so the kids have a religious identity.  And a cultural one.  And, when they reach teen hood, something to rebel against other than their parents.  Sic’em on God. 

We’re looking for a religion, and we’ve decided to look in the direction of Judaism. I think we have to face toward New York.

I’m Jewish.  Via genetics/ Jewish law.  My mother is Jewish so I’m Jewish.   My wife grew up Methodist and went to Catholic High School and then minored in religious studies.  Studied her way right out of a faith.  Now though, she’s rethinking things.  She may be ready to accept Jesus Christ into her heart as a nice Jewish boy.  Who wouldn’t?

God and I don’t hang out either, as a rule.  Different social circles.  I don’t believe in him, he doesn’t believe in me, and we’re comfortable with that.

I’d like to note here, I’m not a strident, angry atheist.  I’ve made peace with my lack of faith.  I don’t want to demean religion. There is nothing worse than a proselytizing atheist.

 “You must not believe or nothing will happen to you!”   Settle down, heathen. 

And, I’m open to the possibility of faith.  It could happen.   I’m not open in a  “so I went to a psychic and she told me I recently underwent an important change and I was like OMG you’re totally right, I just got these pants!” way.  But I’m open.

Like if Moses suddenly showed up on a tortilla, I might believe.  Probably not though, since he didn’t even eat Mexican food.  “Oy, with the spicy,” he used to say.

I joke because the Jews have always been funny.  That’s why God chose us.

I’m also pretty uncomfortable with the subject.  I have never before had to really face up to my lack of religious training or knowledge about my own culture. My formal religious training consists of one month of Hebrew school when I was 7.  My mother was dating the teacher.

 Most of what I know about Judaism, I learned on the streets. Late night games of spin the dreidel in the back of all night delis with tough looking boys named Schlomo and even tougher girls named Sylvia. 

I’m finding some aspects of the Jewish faith fascinating.  Yom Kippur is our day of atonement.  We fast and pray and ask for forgiveness for the year.  The neat thing is, while you’re asking for forgiveness and promising to try harder in the coming year, you’re supposed to be asking the same thing of God.  Imagine that. 

“So . . . sorry about the sloth, drinking, and internet porn this year there God.  I’ll do better, I promise.  But while we’re at it, let’s talk about what you need to work on. Specifically: Everything else bad in the entire universe.  Those who live in glass houses . . .” God’s way into solar energy.  Of course.

(Open dialogue with God.  And so begat the Jewish Lawyer Paradigm.)

It’s a big leap, especially for my wife.  Converting to Judaism means months of classes and rituals and examinations. 

If we’re going to do this we need to do it right.  Shop around.  Take a few temples for a spin.

That part has been a little bumpy.

For Rosh Hashanah, we were invited to a temple about ten minutes away. It was the Pumpkin man’s first time in a yarmulke and he looked handsome.  I wore the traditional Schettleverth.  What’s a Schettleverth?  About 2 dollars.  Zing (to my knowledge, there is no such thing).

We went to temple.  This particular temple, not our scene.  The temple was 2/3 full—tops-- on one of the holiest of holy days in all Jewdom.  And that 2/3 consisted mostly of people who remember the feeling of wet sand against the bottoms of their feet from when they crossed the Red Sea.  Much more Jackie Mason than John Stewart. 

My daughter hated temple.  Hated it.  Why?  No yarmulke for her. As she put it, she couldn’t “wear a fancy hat like daddy and the Pumpkin man.”

She went on to say that she “hated going into temple naked.”

Who can blame her?

The Pumpkin man spent the entire time we were there yelling “Wha’ Dat?  Who’dat?  Wha’dat sound?”  Like a Cajun fire alarm. 

Then Yom Kippur came.  I fasted.  I reflected.  We did not go to temple.  We looked for one.  Found a website for one nearby that promised a short family service for families with young kids. 

Seats had to be reserved because it’s the high holidays and popular temples get banged out pretty quick for these shows.  The seats cost 95$ per for the adults.*  So, we didn’t go.  If we’re gonna spend 95$ for tickets, it better be because a terrific revival of West Side Story is in town. 

That’s a temple with which we’re familiar.

To Be Continued . . . 


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  1. Very funny.
    If only the $95 were also a joke.

  2. We're looking for a religion to bring our little man up in also. My parents did not go to church when I was growing up and my husband's parents dropped him and his siblings off for Sunday school, but didn't stay themselves. They went home and picked the kids up later. So, yeah, we're struggling with the church thing too. :)

  3. I knew I liked you for a reason. You fellow hellion, you.

  4. $95?????? So much for opening the doors to everyone.

    Loved this post. I look forward to the To Be Continued part. Good luck!

  5. Hells bells. You left a dangling asterisks! I'm going to be up all night wondering why there was an asterisk after that sentence. Of course, I'll be up all night praying* for your soul so pausing to wonder about the dangling asterisk is just an added bonus. Win-win in a weird sorta way.

  6. I too grew up in the Methodist Church and went to Catholic School...It confused me right out the door. And I was fine with that until we had our daughter. It's funny what kids lead you to, we found a church that fits us. It's a tough decision, but it would have been hard for me to not at least expose our daughter to some sort of faith. That wasn't in any of the parenting books.

  7. I was brought up Catholic; I don't go to any church and haven't for the past 30 years. I wish you well in your search. I hope you find a church or temple that works for you.

  8. What about Wicca? You could be a wizard and get a pointy hat. That would be dope

  9. Are you sure you want to introduce Pumpkin to all that guilt and shame? One of the advantages of being non-religious is that you don't have to worry about what you do quite as much as the Catholics, Jews and Muslims. Plus, since you don't believe in anything, nobody can ever accuse you of being a hypocrite or of committing henious acts during the Crusades or of having friends with stiff collars and stiffies when they're around choir boys. Your call, of course, but you might want to put some more thought into it before you leap into anything, espcially something as old and well-established as Judiasm.

    Great post Homemaker Man. I haven't read you in a while, and forgot what I was missing. I'll be back for more, I promise.

  10. What about Pageanism? Didn't they drink Ale for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during it's heyday?

  11. I would totally split the difference and go Muslim. Have you no sense of adventure?

    A reform synagogue would be right for you - most people there are culturally Jewish, but sort of agnostic as far as faith in the Almighty goes. Go for it! The food's great.

  12. i'm agnostic, but for me, i chose to let my kids choose whether they wanted to embrace religion and what type. my girls have recently been trying out a couple of churches. they have found one that they like. it's christian, it's non-denominational, and for right now, it seems like a good fit. my girls wanted to get baptized, but i told them they really had to understand what it was about, what religion means to them, etc. i don't think they quite do yet, but i know they will someday. when they do, they'll make the choice wisely. my oldest, who is 23, became an agnostic long before myself. i was baptized catholic, and through my younger years, i also went to a couple of different churches besides catholic (my dad was baptist). i just found, as i got older, it wasn't for me. you know, my oldest is fascinated by judaism...who knows? she might decide to become jewish later in life, but if she does, she'll have my support. i know that it will be a choice she made after learning all she could.

  13. "Most of what I know about Judaism, I learned on the streets."


    My wife and I are devout Avoidists. Therefore, we haven't talked about God with our daughter yet. The subject makes us really, really itchy.

  14. Sorry about the porn....HAH! Ya know, a quick tip. I repent prior to it, repent for my impending sin, then ehhhh, just sin. Works out well that way. Ya know, help reduce the guilt during and after.

  15. We're learning toward Druidism. Trees never guilt you or diddle your kids in the rectory.


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