Jennifer Waters
My First Shabbos, p. 3

This time I was clued in enough to pick up my own powder blue binder, though still too shy to speak to anybody. The people had a shiny bonded-together look that made me feel, in recovery parlance, "Less Than." The selections the rabbi had made were poetic and sensuous: "My religion is about lips, and tears, and poetry, and souls, and the fuzzy line between right and wrong," wrote Allegra Ben Amatz.

Rabbi Eleazor Azikri of Safed was more explicit, and wrote this to God:

Let your sweet love
Delight me with its thrill
Because no other dainty
Will my hunger still

My goodness.

"Boring people are easily bored," opined another rabbi in the text, and even a Leonard Cohen snippet was included: "The Queen makes every Jew her lover." So God can be thought of as a lover in Judaism, but not one you marry, like a nun does. Instead, you marry another nice person from your communal circle. I could feel the hook-ups in the air, past and present, and this made me unaccountably lonely, even though at my age I could certainly have passed the trial of bitter waters.

Although I am occasionally high-spirited about pop culture, I still don't really have a God, even after three whole trips to a temple. 42 may just be too old to adopt a new faith. Cults only achieve sudden conversion by depriving one of sleep and/or feeding hungry people tiny amounts of bad vegetarian food, like the Krishnas at the entrance to Tompkins Square Park. Compared to a cult, Judaism has Friday night services at the convenient hour of 7:30, which ensures plenty of sleep for an unemployed gal like myself, and I saw a platter of tasty cookies accompanied by a plastic jug of Diet Coke just sitting there, apparently for free.

I'd like to know more about faith, so I can feel more. It was my fault that I didn't talk to a temple member, which the Xeroxed brochure had kindly suggested. I was socially attracted to a dykey looking middle-aged woman with sporty gray hair and a flashy yarmulke, and she did wish me Shabbat Shalom, but I just glanced down at the carpeting.

In New York and perhaps elsewhere, though how am I to know, Orthodox and Hassidic Jews are popping up all over, visiting nightclubs and dungeons, or hanging out rakishly at dive bars. One night my friend Dan mentioned that his father had just died, and a Lubavitcher took him to Brooklyn, leading him to a room crammed with other men. "How sad your father died, how sad" they sobbed, sharing a photo of their head rabbi with him. Dan was able to cry for his father for the first time, in a magical close encounter that had nothing to do with conversion or even a singles event. It was just love.

[1]       [2]       3

Jennifer Waters has written three books: Modern English: A Trendy Slang Dictionary, The Laziest Secretary In The World, an illustrated novel, and White Trash Debutante, an autobiography. She does a lot of spoken word, attended The Graduate Writing Program at Columbia, and has taught Satire at Marymount Manhattan College. Currently she writes a column for NY Press under the ridiculous pseudonym of Jennifer Blowdryer.

Related pieces:

They Gonna Crucify Me Ken Applebaum
July, 2003

I Wish I Was... Harbeer Sandhu
June, 2003

yom kippur Sara Seinberg
April, 2003

The Mall Balloon-Man Moment of the Spirit Dan Friedman
May, 2003

Beats, Rhymes, and Nigguns Matthue Roth and Juez
Four modern Orthodox breakbeat musicians on Jewish art
May, 2003

The Polity Rachel Dobkin
Overheard in Union Square, September 11, 2002
October, 2002

On Eighth Avenue in New York Jay Michaelson
New York, full of life, a cure for loneliness.
June, 2002

Whoo Hoo! Jay Michaelson
What can a guy shouting 'whoo hoo!' at a concert tell us about a life well lived?
November, 2001

August 2003

The Queer Guy at the Strip Club
Jay Michaelson

The Gifts of the German Jews: Toward a Postmodern Judaism
Michael Shurkin

My first shabbos
Jennifer Waters

Stones of Jerusalem
David Goldstein

Holocaust Video Testimonies: The Other Reality TV
Dan Friedman

Josh Tells a Bedtime Story
Josh Ring

Zeek in Print
Buy online here

David Stromberg

About Zeek

The Zeek Archive