"I'm here for services," I guessed to say to the security guard.
"Alright," he said, a word seldom heard in Manhattan. I did show him the innards of my backpack, but he barely glanced at my cosmetic bag or engagement calendar, belying Quentin Crisp's maxim that in the age of Big Brother, at least, "Somebody will care." Not that rent-a-cop.
Embarrassed, I hustled into the temple, not knowing to take the powder blue binder containing the text of the sermon.
The rabbi had frizzy hair that she could not style even if she chose to, just like me and my Aunt Selma. She said vague things about love being needed over the situation in Iraq, nothing objectionable, and there was lots of music. An adolescent boy strummed guitar so quietly you had to guess if he was getting the tunes right at all.
There was a hefty printed Torah in front of each spot on the bench, and I opened it when a bar mitzvah boy croaked out his Hebrew selection. I read the English version and it was mostly about how you couldn't eat lizards and such. "The pig might stick out his front hooves, as if to say 'Look how kosher I am!‚' but don't be deceived," I extrapolated from the text. This was not too meaningful a segment of the Torah, nothing Madonna would be studying, so I guessed it just had some of the easiest Hebrew for the boy to memorize and pronounce.
I enjoyed the music, but the next time I went to the Temple, there was an old man rabbi who was pretty off key and had a teacherly style. I loved his spirit, but I felt like more of an outsider, unable to answer any of his Jeopardy!-like questions as the handful of other congregates could. Clearly the woman rabbi was more popular, even though the off-key rabbi was just as sweet as can be.
The third time I went the woman rabbi was back, fresh from a peace meeting in Norway, at which there were three Israeli female rabbis. She was thrilled with the whole thing, having just arrived from the airport, and said things moved very slowly. I could certainly believe that, having watched years of the Middle East conflict reported by the television.
The next Bar Mitzvah celebrant was speaking on "The Trial of the Bitter Waters." My last name happens to be Waters…coincidence? As I learned that night, the trial came about in response to the problem of men accusing their middle-aged wives of something in order to dump them and get newer models. This ceremony was devised protect the women: if, after they drank the potion, they had sagging thighs and a drooping belly, they were innocent! Ingenious, and I recognized in the obscure choice the preteen had made for his speech, a sign of a burgeoning campiness, something I find as dear as life itself.
The Queer Guy at the Strip Club
The Gifts of the German Jews: Toward a Postmodern Judaism
My first shabbos
Stones of Jerusalem
Holocaust Video Testimonies: The Other Reality TV
Josh Tells a Bedtime Story
Zeek in Print
Buy online here
The Zeek Archive