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Monday, March 29, 2010

It Ain't Over Till It's Passover

Yesterday afternoon, we were having a conversation with a friend of mine whose family is "very Jewish." This is a term that I use to describe anybody who knows more than seven words of Hebrew and doesn't regularly consume shrimp.

Anyway, we were discussing preparation for Passover in her parent's house.

"Oh, do they do that shit where you take all your bread and throw it in the river?" I asked.

There was a slight pause in the conversation.

"That's the wrong holiday, sweetheart," my wife pleasantly chimed in.

That about sums up pretty succinctly and accurately my relationship with Judaism. It's very... surface. It's often very... inaccurate. And it's kind of funny, because, more often than not, I feel like being Jewish is such a large part of my identity. It's certainly a large part of my nose.

But what is it about being Jewish is me? It's not the traditions-- the keeping of Shabbat. Kissing the mezzuzah prior to entering a Jewish home and/or leaving one. It's the Woody Allen stuff. The neuroses. The hypochrondria. The guilt. The wry humor. The... poor posture and glasses. The complaining. The incessant desire for self-analysis.

All Jews should have blogs. That way they wouldn't need therapists so much. Oh, shit-- does this mean I should be paying you $150/hr? Um... could you please bill my insurance?

Sometimes I feel like a jewpostor. I mean, I did my time in Hebrew School-- from age 8 to age 13. I have an Israeli father, and that's not easy. But, really, most of the time, I'm just a big faker. When we go to synagogue, which is very rare, my eyes glaze over the Hebrew and it might as well be Japanese. All the fucking prayers sound exactly the same, and if I read about ninety-year-old Joseph impregnating Sarah or Leah or whoever the fuck it was and the rabbi thinking she was drunk because she was praying silently and the burned goats and the burning bush and the seas parting and all of that one more time, well, I think I might puke up my gefilte fish all over everyone.

I mean, gefilte fish already looks like it's been puked up. Who would know the difference?

I feel like a jewpostor during Passover. My wife keeps Passover, and I do it, too, in solidarity with her, because I think marital solidarity is important. I mean, we can't do everything together. Like, when she's menstruating, I don't walk around with a heating pad on my groin, nor do I paint my penis red, but, in ways that we can have marital solidarity, I try to make that happen.

I think being unified with your spouse is a shitload more important than being unified with God because, really, if you piss Him off, what's going to happen to you? Probably nothing. Don't believe me? Try pissing God off and then pissing your spouse off and see which is more uncomfortable.

Passover is always difficult for me because I love eating, and Passover is an extremely restrictive time as concerns what you can put into your body. I'm a carboholic: cakes, breads, croissants, pastries, muffins, sandwiches-- I'm all about the yeast and the bread and the rising. So far, it hasn't all gone to my tits and my ass-- but I keep waiting for it to happen like my 10th grade health teacher warned us it would.

One of the many things I don't like about organized religion are rules about what you can and can't put into your body. Most of the Jewish rules about food I ignore with relish. Actually, I ignore them with shrimp and pork. I don't give a fuck what some inbred graybeards thought a thousand years ago about cloven hooved animals or bottom-feeders, and if someone wants to tell me that I'm not really Jewish because I like lobster tail, then they can go fuck themelves up against a brick wall. But, for Passover, for my wife, I play along.

It's a week? How bad can it be?

There's a little constipation from the matzah, sure, but it passes, if you'll forgive the pun. I don't mind. It is what it is. I just can't help but feel a little, well, guilty. Maybe that's just the constipation, though.

The one thing I do like about Passover are seders with my family. When my father lived in B'nei Brach, his seders started at sundown and would go until 2 or 3 in the morning, with everybody completely shitfaced, probably including the children. Since coming here in 1972, my father has been appropriately Americanized, and, like most Israelis who come to America, he's his own rabbi and his own God. He's realized that he doesn't need to do all that shit anymore, that, having fought in two wars to protect and defend Israel-- he's earned the right to, well, chill. Consequently, our seders are usually over in 15 minutes.

This bothers my wife, and I understand that. "Are we ever going to go to a real seder?" she asked me one day. I could have gotten insulted by that question, but how can I, an ardent jewpostor, have anything to say about that? Only, they are real seders-- conducted by one of the thousands of the motherland's saviors, one of its valiant warriors. One of Israel's hairy-chested, bombastic, good-natured, affectionate, passionate sons.

Whose favorite meal is shrimp stir-fry.

Happy Passover.


  1. I had a coworker who we called "The Convenient Jew" - he would always remind us that he was Jewish whenever it was time for a Jewish holiday where he got the day off. (He actually loved the nickname). This post reminds me of him. Thanks for the laugh, as always.

    My husband wants to know, how did you come up with your blog title - are you a Mason? He is and we are just curious.

  2. Crystal--

    You can call me "The Inconvenient Jew" because, just when I think I have a good thing going, I screw it up with too much religious introspection and angst. And that's very inconvenient.

    I'm no Mason. I came up with the title for this blog in a pretty odd way. First of all, it's kind of making fun of the band "My Morning Jacket." Also, there's an old Monty Python sketch (they're all old, actually, I guess) where an address is shown on the screen where viewers can write to "complain."

    Mrs. Ena Frog
    8 Masonic Apron Street

    And now you know!

  3. You know, I was just thinking last night, and will do a blog post eventually, that I need to take like a day long crash course in religion. Because I work in a Catholic Charities, I'm baptized Catholic, but have next to no knowledge of any kind of religion. If that's not a faker I don't know what is.

  4. Sometimes I have nothing more to add as a comment than: "That was stunningly well-written." And since I've said that on about thirty of your posts, I should probably just keep it to myself at this point. But, dude, can't let it go unsaid.

    Stunningly well-written.

  5. I'm putting on my Jew-apron now....

    Gotta agree with you on the Woody Allen stuff. In fact, when it comes to my secret desires to be Jewish (oh yes, it happens) I would have to say that rather than kissing books and eating matza (altho, let's not joke, they are delish with buttah), being neurotic, self-deprecating and sarcastic are the true Jewish things I value.

    And, you know, please, I just need an excuse for my nose.

  6. I don't even... Okay I'm off to google 'passover'.

    I only have one jewish friend and I'm pretty sure he's in the same rubber dinghy as your good self, so I'll not bother asking him.

  7. I started attending a Messianic church, and some members are Torah observant. I was only all in when they said we could choose to be Torah observant or not. I was like, "I love you, God, but I choose bacon." Sad, I know. But God is required to love me.

  8. I loved everything about this post. So honest, so funny.

    Here's a little religious education for you and Sara, because you guys asked (you did ask, right?):

    Pissing off your spouse will get resolved in this life.

    Pissing off God will get resolved in the next.

    At least, that's what the nuns told us...

  9. Haha. I was raised Roman Catholic. At this time of year, Lent, we are supposed to make sacrifices and fast and not eat meat on Fridays.

    So when I was growing up in Philly, I would come home after school and make sure to eat a nice cheesesteak. Because they wouldn't sell any meat products in the lunchroom on Fridays.

    I hate this time of year because this is when the "fairweather Catholics" come out. They don't do shit during the year but all of a sudden they are holier than thou and make sure to get that dirt on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday and not eat their meat on Fridays. Oh and go to church on Easter. Because that all makes up for all the wrongdoings they've done the rest of the year.

    I hate religion. Needless to say I follow nothing and celebrate holidays commercially.


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