I am not a religious man….unless you count my devotion to the NFL. And if that’s the case, then Roger Goodell is my Lord and Savior.
I grew up Catholic. I had a communion. I had a confirmation. I have gone to confession. All that means to me is that when I walk into a church I can eat the wafer and drink the Jesus juice.
I guess some people use religion to feel like they belong to something greater than themselves. Others may use it to explain things that are unexplainable. Some people I imagine just use religion because they were told to believe and never questioned its purpose.
I question pretty much everything which is why in the past 15 years I haven’t been in a church other than for a wedding or funeral. I know, the obvious joke is, “what’s the difference between the two? Am I right, fellas?” But I’m not going to say that joke.
Well, that all changed about three weeks ago when the woman I’m dating asked if I wanted to go to Jewish temple on Sunday morning for her younger sister’s Hebrew naming ceremony.
At first, I made the obligatory jokes like, “Wait, Jews don’t get names until you’re 10 years old? Do you just go around saying, ‘Hey Jew, yes Jew, come here.’” For some reason she was not amused.
Then I was offended. I had been dating this woman for nearly six months and she had the audacity to ask if I wanted to go to her place of worship at the exact time on the exact day that my organization of worship, the NFL, holds its ceremonies. It’s like she didn’t even know me anymore.
I did not want to go. I don’t even like my own religion, let alone one I am unfamiliar with. But I went anyways, because I knew it would make her happy, it would give me something to write about…and I was told there would be snacks.
We arrived before her family, so we explored the compound. I made sure to be on my best behavior, because despite my disdain for organized religion I realize other people take it quite serious, and I wouldn’t like it if they treated Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers, with disrespect.
A female member of the temple greeted us at the front of the compound and asked if we had an appointment with the rabbi. Before I could joke, “I think it’s pronounced ‘rabbit,’ I realized that this woman thought we were there to discuss marriage plans with the rabbi. After I regained consciousness and accused her of planting that woman, we ran into her family. Other members of the temple gathered around shortly thereafter.
A few people introduced themselves to me and everyone was quite friendly. They asked what I do for a living, offered me snacks, asked where I’m from, and other typical get-to-know-you questions. Fortunately, Jews run Hollywood, so I was safe there, and I work on “America’s Got Talent,” judged by Howard Stern, one of the most famous Jews in show business.
I’ve met the father of the woman I’m dating before and that was fun because of how much he enjoys sharing embarrassing stories of her. He had more of those this time around, as did the other family members whom I was meeting for the first time. Meeting family is generally awkward, but this was not, perhaps because all of my concern was focused on trying to grasp my surroundings.
The woman I’m seeing then brought that to a nails on the chalkboard tire-screeching halt when she announced I am not Jewish.
“Don’t worry about it,” the rabbit said. “You fit right in with that nose of yours.”
After laughing at my large Native American/Mexican/Catholic nose, we discussed more Howard Stern, Chargers football, and they kept offering me more chocolate candies. The Jewish people were making me feel right at home with their inappropriate humor, love of sports, and infatuation with tasty treats. Boy, do the Jewish people love to offer you food. Not so different from my Mexican people.
The woman I’m dating explained to me that it is a very progressive temple, and not all of them are like that. I got the hint of that once they started slangin’ jokes like it was open mic at the Hollywood Improv.
The naming ceremony commenced with each young child approaching the front of the room with family in tow, repeating a prayer and answering questions about the name they were given. Her father asked me to snap some pictures and capture some video on his iPhone.
While the individual ceremony took place, other families chatted quietly and munched on their provided candy and coffee. If that was church, I would’ve been hushed several dozen times. In temple, not the case, and I was provided Twix instead of a bland wafer. Other religions should try the chocolate and caramel method.
Apparently that ceremony was not a typical one in the Jewish culture. I was told that the motivation for it was that the children did not know much about their family origin and where their individual Hebrew names derived from, so the teachers felt it would help them learn. I believe in knowing where you came from, so I actually did feel honored that her family would allow me to partake in the ceremony.
I don’t think I could be a real Jew though. I like bacon too much. And the hat is too small to cover the messy salad on my head when I’m too lazy to comb my hair in the morning. I’ll stick to dating one.
Overall, the experience was enriching. Prior to the visit, my whole knowledge base of Jewish culture derived from reruns of Seinfeld and Woody Allen flicks. While that is still my foundation for the Jewish culture, a few rabbits have enlightened me beyond just entertainment.
P.S. the woman I am seeing remained nameless at her request. She claims she doesn’t want people associating an actual name with all the jokes I write on Twitter. After re-reading this blog, I completely agree with her.