Tag Archives: judaism

I Blew It.

The following story should beautifully illustrate for all of you why I walk around this world in a constant state of panic, with the assumption that at any point in time, I will do something epically dumb/awkward/socially unacceptable/spastic that will leave me slapping myself for years to come.

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends, Adam, asked me to sign the ketubah at his wedding, which occurred last night (*note to the non-Jews– a ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract between the bride and groom. It requires the signature of some Jewish witnesses. In this case, me and three other Jewish friends of the couple.) My first thought was “What an honor!” and my immediate second thought was “Christ, what does that entail?!” (No, just kidding. I definitely thought the Christ thing first.)

I’ve never signed a ketubah at a wedding, and I had heard various stories about how it works– one friend of mine had to write a bunch of shit in Hebrew, a task this barely-Jew is CLEARLY incapable of without at least one month of practice. Another friend said he had to write his entire address in cursive. As we recently established, I do not know how to write a cursive t, much less any other letter that is not part of my name. I could envision me standing there with a shaky hand, taking 45 minutes to pen the words “New York” with the same skill and accuracy as Billy Madison writing “Rizzuto,” while Adam puts his head in his hands and silently wishes he had just asked his 98-year-old senile great aunt to do this instead. (Note: Adam does not actually have an old, senile great aunt. I’m just saying, if he did, she would have been the better choice).

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“No, no,” Adam assured me. “You literally just have to sign your name. No Hebrew, no extraneous cursive. We are making this as easy as possible for everyone involved.”

And then, in what can only be labeled the most unrealistic notion to ever enter my psyche, I thought, “Oh, ok. There’s no way I can fuck this up.”

You see where this is going.

I fucking fucked up the fuck out of it.

“But…but…how is that even possible?” you say. “You just had to write your name! You literally just had to do the one thing you’ve been practicing doing since you were 4 years old!”

Yeah. I know. FOR CHRIST’S SAKE I KNOW.

Here’s what happened. A bunch of guests were gathered in a room, and the rabbi called over the “witnesses.” To me, that meant ALL the witnesses (I’m not the only one who thought this– ALL the ketubah witnesses came over. #throwingmyselfabonehere). The rabbi explained to the first witness standing in front of her, Jon, that he needed to fill out his name and address on the sheet of paper, and “we’ll do the signature part later.” So Jon went first. Then the rabbi turned to me, as I was second in line, so I picked up the pen and went next. Right below Jon’s information, there was a line for the next witness to write in her information. So I did. Full name, full address.  In print, not cursive, thank god.

I then passed the pen to the next witness, Melissa. She went to fill out her information but there was no space for a 3rd witness (I had failed to notice this when I filled out my part. I just did what I was told by the rabbi– she has God on her side, people! If a rabbi gives you a task you fucking do it and you don’t ask questions. I later pointed this out to the rabbi, and she was honored that I gave her that much credit and power. Yeah, well. Never again, sister.) Confused, Melissa turned to the rabbi and said, “There are more than two witnesses here but there is no more space.” It is at this point that the rabbi informed us that this was not a form for the ketubah signers– this form was the official marriage license. You know, the paper you use to legally seal your union and prove you are married? That form. That binding, lasting contract. And I was NOT the designated witness for that form. Jon, who filled it out before me and is a best friend of the groom, was. The second witness was supposed to be the best friend of the bride.

I am not the best friend of the bride.

I’m an asshole friend of the groom who wrote on the wrong paper.

A paper that just happened to be the legal marriage license.

“Well, I guess you’re the new witness instead!” said the rabbi casually, thinking that solved the problem, which it clearly did NOT. The bride and groom had obviously very precisely planned who would sign their legal license, and I was not included even a little bit in that plan.

The only saving grace is that I did not actually SIGN the license. I just filled out the form with my information. The actual assigned witness could still sign it at the bottom, but her signature would not match the information I had given. So, in other words– it would not be, you know…legal. Per se.

“I mean….I guess we can just cross it out…” said the rabbi tentatively, clearly never having had to deal with a fuck-up this epic before. “It won’t look great, but it can still be used…”

Every newlywed couple’s dream.

So that’s what happened. The poor girl who was supposed to have had the honor of being the marriage license witness had to draw a line through all my printed information and squeeze hers in on top of it. And for the rest of their lives, Adam and Diana will have proof of my idiocy forever imprinted on a document reflecting the most important, meaningful decision they’ve made in life thus far.

When the ketubah signing part happened afterwards, I managed to get my signature down on the correct line, because I looked the bride dead in the eye and said, “Please show me EXACTLY where to sign.” I then wished the couple a lifetime full of “love, happiness and LAUGHTER,” emphasizing the word laughter in my most dire tone, so as to indicate, “Hey, remember when I screwed up your marriage license? We’re all already laughing about that, right?”

Probably not.

When the whole thing was over, Adam came over to me, gave me a huge, warm bear hug and gently whispered in my ear, “Thank you for ruining my wedding.”

Well you. are. WELCOME.

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Maybe I’ll Let Eric Do The Talking

“Where’d we meet? On an app called J-Swipe. Oh, you don’t know it? Well, it’s an app where Jews can swipe left or right on other Jews. It’s also location-based, so you can see all the Jews in your immediate vicinity. Basically I looked at my app and was like, ‘What’s that, a Jew 2 blocks away? Sounds convenient– let’s do this!’ No no, don’t give me that look. This was not a sleazy late night meeting. I know people refer to J-Swipe as the Jewish Tinder, but it’s really not the same reputation. And besides, Tinder doesn’t even have that slutty rep anymore! I totally know people who have found true love on Tinder. But anyway, I think the fact that it’s a Jewish site makes it inherently less one-night-stand-ish because, I mean, if you’re a Jew specifically looking for another Jew, you presumably are probably wanting more than just a one-night ‘wham bam thank you jewish ma’am?’ Don’t you think?”

(silence)

“Oh, I’m sorry…I thought we were in the trust tree…in the nest. Are we not?”

— Conversation I envision happening when we meet with our wedding rabbi.

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The Day I Stopped Caring What Old People Think of Me

Years ago, fresh out of graduate school, I worked at a school in the suburbs and had an awesome boss. We’ll call her Diane. Diane was the principal at a predominantly white, predominantly Catholic private school. She was the only black person on the premises, and I was the only Jew, and I always felt like we had a special bond because of that (I am acutely aware that she likely did not feel the same).

Anyway, one day her 5-year-old son came to visit the school, and because we had this special bond (re: I was the only one standing there), Diane asked me to watch him in the yard while she made a quick phone call. He was a gorgeous little boy with huge, beautiful eyes and a vivacious spirit. As I was watching him, a coworker of mine came outside and sat next to me. She was a stuffy, judgmental old white lady who I had absolutely nothing in common with (other than our whiteness) and who, needless to say, never really “got” my sense of humor or personality in general.

It was clear she didn’t like me. But because I was young and insecure, and had a broad, all-encompassing respect for the older generation (a respect I now hand out more selectively, thanks in part to this woman but also thanks to the various old ladies who have spit at me on the streets of NYC), I still felt the need for her approval.

So I tried to strike up a benign, friendly conversation as we watched Diane’s kid climb the jungle gym. “He is just too much, isn’t he? Such a beautiful kid. Diane is in so much trouble when he gets older.”

The woman turned to me, completely unamused and said, “You know, it is subtle statements like that that keep racism alive and present. Most Caucasian people inherently just assume that African American children will grow up to be ‘trouble makers,’ and that attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for them. I don’t see why you would conclude, just from looking at an African American boy, that he will cause trouble when he’s older.”

I stared at her, stunned.

And in that moment, I decided I no longer gave a fuck what she thought of me. Yes, she was old enough to be my grandmother, but you know what? Grandmas are assholes, too.

The prospect of no longer having to impress her was altogether freeing.

“I think you misunderstood me. I said ‘Diane is going to be in trouble when he’s older,’ because he is gorgeous and girls will be falling all over him. Which was a joke. But, to be clear, a joke that had nothing to do with race, and zero to do with him making any actual ‘trouble.’ The fact that you would jump to that conclusion makes you, in fact, the subtle, underlying racist.”

Watching this stuffy old white woman’s face crumble was one of the most satisfying moments of my life.

A few days later, she removed the Swastika-adorned wigwams that had been decorating the entryway to her 2nd grade classroom.

So yeah. I’d say we both learned something that day.

 

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My Judaism is Rusty

This year we had two lovely, very inquisitive non-Jews at our Seder.

I did my best.

Guest: “And what does the maror symbolize?”

Me: “The bitterness of slavery.”

Guest: “And the charoset?”

Me: “The mortar the slaves used between the bricks when they were building for the Eygptian pharohs.”

Guest: “And how about the shank bone?”

Me: “That represents how the slaves passed the time all those years in the desert.”

(Silence)

Me: “They boned.”