I am Jewish, but I am not. Not really. True, my parents were Jewish, followed and believed. My sister follows to the extreme.
My grandparents kept a very strict house where every Jewish rule was followed to the letter. Needless to say, there was no TV or electricity used on the Sabbath. I probably was set up to follow as they all did. But....
I never have. I went to Hebrew school but hated it. Went out of my way to get kicked out, which I was very successful at. I must have spent every day in the Principals office even though I wasn't a bad kid. I had a goal in mind, which was to get expelled, and while I was never expelled I did enough so that my parents thought it best to remove me from that school. They administration of that school was not sorry to see me go.
I had a Bar Mitzvah , in 1979, like most Jewish boys do. I did well. I learned my part and executed that part well. I remember very well when I was studying for the big day each week my father would drive me to some Rabbi's house that would teach me my part in some very small old room in a basement. My main goal was to do very well so he would let me go early and I could get home fast enough to watch as much as I could of Soap. That Rabbi was like the admins at the Hebrew School. He was happy for me to finish fast and get out of there. We were sympatico that way.
I was always told that when you had a Bar Mitzvah, in the Jewish religion, you were now not a boy anymore, but a man. My father always said that I had to follow all the crazy rules ( no mixing meat and dairy, only kosher food in the house, only eat dairy 6 hours after meat, etc, etc, etc.) until I became a man. He said that once I was a man, I could do what I wanted. The first thing I said when that day came and passed was that I was a man now and I wasn't following any of the crazy rules anymore. And so I have not since that day.
I have been to the odd Bar Mitzvah since then, but not really many family ones. Today was the first in a long line of them to take place. The next generation of my family is now maturing, and the first one was my cousin Sandra's son Isaac.
I don't mind the Bar Mitzvah's persay, even though they can really drag on and be boring, because there is always some value within them. As well, you get free lunch and to see all your relatives you rarely get to see anymore. That is the upside for me.
The first order of business was parking the car in the crowded parking lot. That is always a chore with Jews, especially old ones. Anyone who has ever driven in South Florida knows all about that.
They do this thing. You know this thing. They just stop and get confused and decide they don't want to be there, but over there. So...they back up. And it doesn't matter if a car or anyone is there. They are backing up. Once they arrive at the spot they want to be, they must park the car. And when I say park the car, I mean they must back it in. And when I say back it in, what I mean it that they must back in on the wrong angle, go back out, do it again, and again, and again until they finally have it right.
Of course, it doesn't end there. When they get out of that car, they must open the door and leave it open, so that anyone parking beside them comes ever so close to hitting it and them. That is a Jewish birthright I think.
Now, my wife is Chinese. They are horrific drivers. Does that sound stereotypical and racist? Yes. Of course it sounds that way. But it is also true. And you are all thinking that along with me because you know it is. Even my own wife mocks them and admits that it is true. Anyway, at least with them I can say they are consistent. They are consistently bad and you pretty much know all the bad things they are going to do. I can summarize.
1) If they are about to miss an exit on the highway, they are going to slam their brakes on to make sure they don't.
2) When driving in the neighborhood, they will stop at every street to look at the sign to see if that is the right street to turn onto. It makes no difference that you are directly behind them.
3) They will drive slow and in the left lane no matter what, because they are going to be making a left at some point in the day and they can't make lane changes.
While the Chinese are predictably bad, the Jewish ones are very unpredictable. The older ones are even worse. You just never know what they will do. They are the scariest of them all.
I didn't learn or retain much from Hebrew School, but some things linger. Here are a few.
1) Jewish kids are lousy at playing hockey cards and if recess is long enough you can win just about all their cards from them.
2) If you don't hide your winning cards from the teacher, or even look at them once when they are not in your desk, the teacher is going to take them all away. Which you are okay with, because you are just going to win them back again the next recess.
3) They tell you a shitload of stories about Moses. I know a lot about Moses. This one always seems to be stuck in my brain.
"And God said to Moses: Let my people go."
As I sat through the service this morning, and the Rabbi started to quote Moses 50 million times, it occurred to me that maybe he meant to say:
"Let Me People Drive Badly, and so it is said and so it is written"
All that being said, I did have a good time sitting with my aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and friends and shooting the breeze. That makes it all worth it. As long as I can get out of the parking lot without any dents or being backed over, I consider the day a success.