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Rabbis, first kisses…and other stuff

By January 24, 2010News

This post is dedicated to Alisa Bowman.

Good Sunday morning! I know we don’t usually meet here on Sundays, but the thing is that I’ve never really recovered from the Sunday mornings that I was forced into uncomfortable clothes and shuffled off to Sunday School. Not a Sunday goes by now that I don’t wake up and think, Awesome, I don’t have to go to Sunday School today. And it’s been 21 years since they made me go.

Look at this picture (shift your eyes up). That’s me. I was 4. Do you see how happy I was? That’s because I didn’t start Sunday School until I was 5.

It’s not that I’m against religion or anything. I mean, I believe wholeheartedly in George Michael’s treatise – you really do gotta have faith.

But Sunday School was just wrong. Let me prove it to you by listing some of my favorite moments (and, frankly, the only ones I remember) from this horrid weekly two hours that I suffered from Kindergarten through my sophomore year in high school (that’s 11 years, ELEVEN):

  • Carpooling. Because it was fun when I was little to ride in a car that wasn’t mine.
  • The Sundays that focused on the holidays where we got to eat (Rosh Hashana = apples and honey; Purim = hamentashen; Passover = charoseth) because they fed us on those Sundays.
  • The ride home when we stopped at the deli on Wydown (Protzels) and I got to get the world’s saltiest and biggest pickle or pickled tomatoes, rye bread with corn sitzel and blow-your-mind corned beef. I ate mine with ketchup. (Does anyone see a pattern here? Clearly, my brand of Judaism revolved around food.)
  • A very cute boy in my class named Sean. (Really, we’re Facebook friends and he’s even hotter now. Yes, because he’s no longer 12).
  • The ‘teenage years’ when I walked in the front door of the temple, straight through the building and out the back door to meet my badass classmate who hailed from Jersey (the sketchy part) in the parking lot where we smoked and did nothing else for two hours and then walked back through the building to get picked up by our parents.

My family wasn’t very religious. True to one of the greatest coined phrases ever, we’re ‘Jew-ish’.

Oddly enough, however, one of my best childhood friends turned into a rabbi. Okay – that was kind of funny phrasing. Like he turned into a turnip or something. This was the first boy I kissed (when I was all of 5)…our moms and older brothers were best friends – and so were we. And we spent a ginormous amount of time together including every holiday, every weekend, every everything.

Mad scientist, Iditarod musher, famous musician – that’s what I figured he’d be. But, I never pegged him for the rabbinical life. Still, now, I totally get it. I understand why the Jewish faith is so important to him, why he’s taken on this amazing vocation. It’s because he didn’t have to go to Sunday School.

Read all about my old flame, Rabbi Heifetz, in a fantastic interview on The Daily Norm. Seriously. I wish I’d had a guy like this at my Sunday School…who knows, if it had been so, I, myself, might have turned into a nun.

Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Todd Jordan says:

    Reminds me of going to Catechism classes on Saturdays. Some of the kids would just sneak away and smoke and wait to get picked up by their parents.

    For me the best part was the midmorning break. We could all run around the corner to the donut shop or the corner market and get a sweet something and a soda.

    Ah the memories. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Tom says:

    nice one. I love my parents- they are two of the nicest, greatest people I know… BUT I too was forced to slide that plastic belt into my white cords and lace up those imitation loafers. ugh. thank god we stopped at donut world after church for all those years. just think – 2hrs/wk x 52wks x 15yrs= 1500hrs of being subjected to bland, middleoftheroad, religious pap… must take a toll somewhere along the way. thank god for donuts!

  • Edgy Mama says:

    First kiss at 5? You were an early starter.

    I, too, hated Sunday school and church. Now my husband takes my kids, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it’s liberal religious education (UU Church), on the other, I don’t want it to scar them for life.

    Great interview.

  • Andi says:

    Catholic Sunday school SUCKED too!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Edgy – I’ve always been on the cutting edge.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Yes. It seems that sucky Sunday school was an equal opportunity affair…

  • nandoism says:

    I remember Sunday School too, and I didn’t want to go either, but my reason was because of the priests–we’re Catholic. Oy! What a fun post. Your new fan, Nando
    ( here’s the link to the video–not sure if you saw it or not:

  • Alisa says:

    Julie– I really miss the food, too. You just can’t get a good knish outside of NYC. Or a good pickle for that matter. I sort of miss passover, too. I’m not sure why. Otherwise, I’m completely a 100 percent fallen jew. Well, I suppose Jew-ish will do.I still stick up for my tribe when it comes down to punches (as you know). I’m honored that you dedicated this post to me. Next time we’re in the city together, we’re going out for pickles.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    There is something wrong with eating corned beef with ketchup…but tomatoes is OK with me. I can’t elaborate.

    I didn’t know you were a member of the tribe. I love learning new things about you.

  • Sandra Foyt says:

    I didn’t get to go to Sunday School, even though I begged to go with my friends. Guess the grass is always greener on the other side!

  • Ok, this is almost totally unrelated, but for about 35 years +- I’ve been wondering about the word “sitzel” I’ve tried looking it up and it seems like the only place I can find it (and the place I originally heard it) was at Plotzer’s – as in “sandwich on a sitzel bagel.”

    It makes total sense that it’s the corn on the bottom. But I’ve never heard it from any other source. Is it a Yiddish word? Or maybe a baking word? (Or both?)

    Funny how the little things stick with you. Could you help me with the word origins – a google search on sitzel rye pretty much gets me to Protzels and no place else…

  • Julie Roads says:

    Christopher – even scarier is that I just googled ‘what is corn sitzel’ and the first two results were from my/this blog! I’m totally on the case. I’m wondering if this isn’t just a case of onomatopoeia – because seriously, the stuff looks, tastes and feels like ‘sitzel’!!!

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