Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Insider's Guide To Judaism

I explained to my boyfriend that I had read something in "one of the Jewish blog world blogs". He asked, 'how many Jewish bloggers are there, anyway?'

Sometimes I realize, with a small shock, that I am his only window into Judaism. He is not one of these gentile guys who grew up in a town where half his buddies were bar mitzvahed, or dated Jewish girls in high school. The whole Jewish world, the history, lore, behavior and activities of all of us, (twelve or thirteen million?) are viewed by him pretty much only through me. It's kind of a strange feeling. What is not important to me he will not see. What I don't say, he doesn't know.

Sometimes what he sees is reflected back to me in ways that make me uncomfortable. I was chatting with him about the religious schools to which we will (I imagine) send Bubba and Jezebel, and waxing a little rhapsodic about the community they will have as children. And he said, "because the Jewish community has made you so happy?"

Well, there's that. He met me at what was close to the bottom of my relationship with the Jewish world. I wanted some things--a job, justification, my childhood sense of chavurah--more than I could begin to articulate, from 'the community', and I was not getting. I was bitter. I was nuts. I cried myself to sleep more nights than I care to remember because I could not figure out how to be Jewish in the way I wanted to be. Judaism, for him, is something that makes his girlfriend despair a lot. And remember, I am the whole show to him. I am (grin), the most observant Jew he knows.

He's seen other things--the joy I get from the holidays (and also the madness that Pesach produces). He's seen me develop a more comfortable relationship with a shul and a rabbi. But I think his initial impression was that it's hard to be a Jew. First impressions are lasting.

But he meets me on the way. He works on Jewish for me--shooing me off to shul (why, he wants to know, can't I tell him WHEN the service starts?), and he can find lard in a grocery ingredient list faster than I can. For a man who, early in our courtship, forwarded me a Jewish joke he'd read and then asked me what a 'bubbe' was to clarify the punchline for himself--we've come far. Yesterday he snatched a marinade away from me in the grocery store and pointed out that it had cheese in it and couldn't be used for chicken. I'm tellin' ya!

He's getting the rules down. What I'd like to show him, more, is the 'ashreinu' part, the real joy and fun I get from Jewishness. Something to think of, as the chagim get closer.


Eliyahu said...

well, there's lots of jewish music that brings me great joy...i could make a list, but you may already have your're making a great holy ambassabor!

Eliyahu said...

ambassador, that is. spelling is not my fort. er, forte.

AbleVaybel said...

The "bubbe" remark reminds me of a friend from college who invited her non-Jewish bf home at Chanukah. He wanted to know if they were going to have any of those potato chochkes he'd heard about.

Rachel said...

What I'd like to show him, more, is the 'ashreinu' part, the real joy and fun I get from Jewishness.

This resonates for me, a lot.

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