When Sam was in a local show a few years ago, the theatre owner was trying to figure out how to boost ticket sales. Arizona has fantastic local theatre, but getting the word out can be tough. “The Jews,” I told him. “You must go to the Jews.”
So, to illustrate, Sam and I went to all the Jewish preschools around town. He read the book upon which the show was based to the school kids, and the theatre donated the book to the schools. We left flyers for the parents with dates and times for the shows.
And then we sat back and waited.
And the following weekend, like a scene from Fiddler on the Roof, the Jews began wandering into the theatre. From the mountains way up high to the valleys down low, they came to our theatre. And each weekend after that, the audiences were filled. The show extended an extra weekend. As the song goes in the musical Spamalot, if you wanna get a hit show, you gotta get some Jews. We’ve got a very special unique power. We have the power of the word of mouth.
Tomorrow is the Jewish New Year’s Eve, so tonight, Jews around the world are getting wasted counting down until midnight to celebrate year 5945 or whatever year it is. I have no clue. Because to me, Judaism is more about the traditions and culture and less about the actual religion. To me, its about the holidays, the celebrations, and the gossip. Did I say gossip? I meant the camaraderie and friendship. And the new outfits you get each year to wear to temple. And then to stare at everyone else to see what they are wearing. And to criticize it all in your head.
To Craig, Judaism is about going to temple and being bored and spacing out and thinking about other things. And listening to a language and singing songs no one really understands. And also hanging out in the bathroom during services with friends complaining how bored they are.
Religion means different things to different people. No matter what religion you are, it really comes down to being at a place where you feel like you belong and have common beliefs.
Growing up in Michigan, everyone in my school and neighborhood were Jewish. That’s just how it was (and still is) Not here in AZ. We are the only ones in our neighborhood and Lauren is only one of maybe 10 kids out of 90 that are Jewish in her grade. We often feel out of place in our community during the Christian holidays, so it’s nice when we have our own holidays and our own peeps to hang with. Even if our holidays include some fun ones such as: starving ourselves for 24 hours! not eating carbs for 8 days! and feeling bad and apologizing for everything we did wrong that year!
Us Jews pride ourselves on our special traditions. 14 years ago tomorrow, Craig and I stood under a chuppah and were given blessings by a rabbi and declared husband and wife by stepping on a glass and shouts of Mazel Tov! (Which means Good Luck! Like, hey, hope this all works out for you!)
To celebrate our anniversary tomorrow, we will yet again be blessed by a rabbi who will wish us a happy and safe new year. Kind of cool to celebrate our 14th anniversary this way on Rosh Hashana.
The best part for me, though, was tonight. The family gathering. Craig’s parents, his brother and wife; my parents, my sister and her wacky husband and their adorable 3 year old twins. Creating memories year after year between these two merged families has been amazing. The laughter, the joy, the traditions of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents is what religion, any religion, is all about. My favorite childhood memories are based mostly on family holiday dinners. Even if I never really liked the food ( sorry, briscuit just isn’t my thing.) Also I think it’s hilarious when no one knows which Hebrew prayer to sing next or the actual words to the song (as seen in video below.)
So, while the Jews do love ourselves some good theatre, what I think we love the most about it is that theatre is rooted in tradition. The yearly trip with family to the city to see The Nutcracker or the shows you saw with family at high school plays or local theatre. I vividly remember my first time seeing Annie at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit. I got to miss school and see it with my best friend.
And so, tomorrow, we will sit surrounded by our fellow Jews and think about why the lady in fromt of us wore that hat. Or question the appropriateness of most of the women’s clothing choices. Then we will daydream about what we want for lunch. Craig and I can pause our silent “prayer” to smile and remember that this is where it all started. The promises our rabbi had us repeat (which I think includes to be loyal and true and to create a loving family but it was really hard to hear him because our wedding was 105 degrees and held outside so the sweat pouring from my head to my ears made it hard to hear what the rabbi was actually saying).
If he told us we had to put up with each other’s annoying habits, pretend to listen to everything the other one says over the phone while really looking at the computer, to pass off parenting duties with a quick “daddy can help you” when I don’t feel like it, and to help break up a fight with the kids over computer and/or TV usage, then we are doing a helluva job.
Happy Jewish year 9,874 to my fellow Jews and happy year 14 to my fellow life traveler. In my autobiography, Craig, I will always refer to you as my favorite first husband, and the father of my first 3 kids before I became a cougar and moved on to my 20 some year old lover.
And that, that my dear, is pretty special.