I grew up in a fairly Jewish community. It wasn’t a religious community but it was traditional. We’d do Friday night dinners, celebrate the Jewish holidays and sometimes go to Synagogue.
I went because it was fun and social and the perfect place to check out boys. I had my first kiss in Shul and even though our braces got stuck and it was kinda messy, it was indeed a very good close to god moment.
As I got older I stopped going. I found other places to look at boys and started questioning religion. Orthodox Judaism seemed kind of archaic and wrong and I slowly drifted away.
By the time I was in my twenties, I hardly ever went to Synagogue. When I did, I felt awkward.
But yesterday a friend was celebrating her son’s Bar Mitzvah and I had to go. I wanted to go actually, she’s a good friend.
But as I got dressed, I felt anxious.
What will I wear, who will I talk to, HOW LONG WILL IT BE!
I tried to time it perfectly. Get there just in time for his portion, say Mazaltov, eat a bit of chopped liver and make a hasty getaway.
But something odd happened. I was sitting inside, day-dreaming of delicious food, the ocean, sea air, salty water, men and sex, wondering how much longer to go, when suddenly –
I stopped dreaming.
I started listening.
Somehow the Rabbi had got to me.
And not just to me.
He had everyone’s attention.
He was entertaining, totally into his singing and kinda funny too.
But more than that, he was saying some really meaningful stuff. About community and love, friendship and family, equality, justice and – my god!
Good deep words.
I suddenly had these weird kind of not quite spiritual but really fucking glad to be here and even belong feelings.
And then the young boy, the young man, standing on the bimah with his mom, an incredibly meaningful and emotional right of passage.
I was moved, absolutely and totally by the traditions of Judaism.
It’s because the Rabbi is attractive, I thought. I’m finding a Rabbi attractive, I need to find out if he’s married, what does it take to date a Rabbi, how do I explain Violet, must we use a sheet, can I still swear, will he expect me to cook, BE KOSHER, what should I wear…
He’s the Rabbi by the way of a reform synagogue, a very progressive synagogue.
I found out later, while I was munching on chopped liver, that he is married.
It was never about the Rabbi at all.
It was about an extraordinary moment between mother and son.
It was about love. Community.
Peace and equality.
And everyone wanting the same thing.