June 20, 2013

The Unspoken Commandment(s)

It was the solstice.  Not that the day had any special meaning to me, but I do remember that my facebook feed was alive with well wishes and celebrations of the longest day of the year.  That was the day I got the letter.  

It arrived in a powder blue envelope, smelling of old books, fresh currency, and rose water.  Perhaps it was all in my mind, but it felt heavier than a normal first class envelope.  (Later, I would tell myself it was the weight of the expected guilt associated with it.)  The return address was somewhere in New York, handwritten in beautiful, near calligraphy.  And not some font that’s supposed to fool a person into thinking it was hand prepared.  I mean, you could make out the pen strokes on the letters.  

With a look of confusion on my face, I turned over the envelope, ripped down the side, and slid out the contents.  A single piece of what appeared to be parchment paper fell into my hand.  After smoothing out the letter, I could see it was from someplace called the Jewish Preservation League.  Now, I was adopted into a very reform Jewish household as an infant.  I mean, we were so relaxed that I would often put bacon on my bagels as a kid, and really only went to services when there was something in it for me.  As in, a day out of school, or a party where I could awkwardly dance for a couple hours and then go back to the same level of barely contained contempt from my peers the next day.  Trying to resolve this knowledge, and the sender in the same space in my head was intriguing, so I had to continue reading.

“Dear Ms. Ephemily,

We at the Jewish Preservation Society have been alerted to certain activities occurring at your address that require our intervention.  On June 20th, 2013, our systems indicated that two Hebrew National hotdogs were boiled and then consumed by [name redacted] at 10:43 PM.

We have long overlooked your blatant disregard for tradition and common decency of the Jewish people.    We wrote off your having your Bat Mitzfa reception at the BBQ restaurant on Oct 20th, 1988 as a youthful indiscretion.  We wrote off your flippant remark that you’d be less of a problem child about your actual ceremony if you could do it in French as your being defiant about the bullying you endured in Hebrew school.  We looked past your agreeing with Mason Lerner’s post on Jewcy about being an invitation only Jew because we figured at least you were reading about the culture.   At the time you’d been away from the faith for nearly a decade, and we’d hoped you were showing renewed interest in the faith.  We even declined to intervene when you sought a marriage outside the faith in a civil ceremony.  (Thank G-D that you at least had the sense to have a Jew marry you, even if he wasn’t ordained.)  We were one vote away from sending the Nana Squad this last winter when you sent Christmas cards to several of your friends.  But your most recent actions have left us no choice.  Hebrew National hot dogs must not be mistreated as such.  They must be grilled.  And not only grilled, but on a charcoal grill, over hot coals, and until the casing splits and begins to burn.  Only then are they fit for consumption by any self respecting Jew.

As a result, we have no choice but to take action.  You must atone for this egregious error in judgement.  It is the determination of this committee that you must go before the council of nanas, as well as spend 6 months taking violin lessons.  You are scheduled to appear before the council in 2 weeks.  Please arrive early, wearing your Saturday best.  

Your violin lessons will begin this Saturday after services. (We will be seeing you, yes?)  Your former instructor, Ms Finkelstein is no longer offering lessons.  However, we were fortunate enough to discover that her grand daughter has taken up the family business and is willing to teach you.  Please meet with her in the lobby of synagogue this Saturday to make arrangements.  

We are sorry to have to take these actions.  However, you forced our hand.  We will be in touch again after your requirements have been met.

Shalom,
The Jewish Preservation Enforcement Committee"

I couldn't help but feel the pride swell in my chest.  They noticed!  All these years, and I thought my nose thumbing was in vain.  I chuckled and put the letter and envelope on the pile of others from the Geeks Awareness Guild, Know Thy Place Biblical Movement Women’s Group, and the Fat Is Shameful, Get Used To It Society’s similar letters and went about my business of putting bacon flavored potato chips on my cheeseburger for dinner.

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