When I was a little girl I would dream of going to temple, getting to celebrate my bat mitzvah, and holding on for dear life as I was lifted up in a chair on my wedding day.
My fascination with all things Jewish started in elementary school. I would notice some of my girlfriends getting out of school on holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I remember telling my second grade teacher that I wasn’t going to be in class on one day because my family and I would be observing Purim. Why Purim? All I knew was that my friends Robin, Ilene and Melissa didn’t have to be in school the next day and I did. Totally not fair. I had an elaborate plan built up where I would skip school and spend the day at the library, with a possible trip to the deli for a Slush Puppy.
That was ultimately a wasted week of plotting and planning, not realizing that my teacher’s assistant was a member of the congregation at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church which my family and I attended, well, religiously.
|So. Not. Jewish.|
Jewish families and Italian families have a ton in common, whether they want to admit it or not:
• Food is hugely important – Some of my favorite foods in the world are Jewish. Bagels? Yes please.
Knishes? You bet. Matzo Ball Soup? Watch me go crazy.
• Family is hugely important – Growing up all of my Jewish friends were also spending every Sunday the same way this Roman Catholic girl was…at Grandma’s house.
• Guilt is hugely important – Three words: Call your mother.
As a young girl I would try desperately to use Hebrew type slang which just made me come off as a kid imitating an old lady.
If a boy bothered me on the playground at school I would say “Oy vey,” as I flipped my hair and walked away. I would also refer to people I didn’t care for as “meshugenahs,” not fully knowing or understanding exactly what it meant. Even my Jewish friends gave me that “what the hell are you talking about” look.
I also longed to wear one of those gold necklaces that my girlfriends had with Hebrew charms on them. I had no idea what these meant, but they were pretty, shiny, and tied a group of girls together that I wanted to be a part of. Sure, I had my gold cross, but what they had seemed way cooler because it was different.
Today I live on the west coast and I desperately miss my New York bagels, knishes, and matzo ball soup.
Yes, I know I can get all of that out here, but no, it is not the same…not by a long shot.
And I still say “Oy vey” probably more than any Jewish old lady that you know.