Monday, November 18, 2013

A Mitzvah at a Bar Mitzvah

For my readers not fluent in Hebrew, Bar Mitzvah is the ceremony a Jewish boy undergoes on the first Sabbath after his 13th birthday, accepting him as a member of the Jewish community.  A Mitzvah, can mean a commandment of Jewish law or it can mean a meritorious act.  I am happy to report that a while back I performed a Mitzvah at a Bar Mitzvah,

Several years ago a woman I’d met on Notre Dame’s summer London Law Program invited me to her son’s Bar Mitzvah in Miami, Fl.  

I went and had an absolutely wonderful time.  Hedy is a great lady.  She’s married to a fine gentlemen and they have two wonderful children, Rachel and Alexander (who I call Alexander the Great.  He is Alexander, he is great, so who says he isn’t Alexander the Great?).  At the reception that evening, I discovered that they had laid out an absolutely incredible buffet, which included bowls of shrimp.  It went through my mind that somebody might take Hedy to task for her choice of refreshments.  For what it’s worth, I want to advise anyone that, regardless of your race, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, party registration, astrological sign, alma mater or brand of toothpaste — if anyone says an unkind thing to Hedy, I'm likely to kick someone’s tuchus.  It went through my mind that it might be a bad thing that there would be some Jewish folks being tempted to violate Jewish dietary laws.  I thought to myself, “I am a Gentile and really try to be a righteous one, so is there anything I can do to help in this situation” and then I thought, “Jews will not be tempted to eat shellfish if I eat it first.”  So I am not just eating like a pig at a buffet (tell me Rabbi, is it a bad thing to eat like a pig at a Bar Mitzvah?) I went after those shrimp with even more gusto than I usually do at the prospect of free food.  (I keep forgetting: is it 18 shrimp per handful or is it 20?).  After half an hour, the ocean called and said they were running out of shrimp.  After an hour Stephen Spielberg called to see if I wanted to play the shark in the next remake of Jaws.  By the time I made my exit, I could imagine some friend of Hedy’s saying, “I can’t believe you would serve shrimp at your son’s Bar Mitzvah.”  To which I would replay, “WHAT shrimp?”

“It was on the table over there.”
Me: “What table?”
“There was a table over there a minute ago.”
Me: “Belch!”

P.S. I want to take this opportunity to make an ecumenical statement to all my Jewish friends.  If you are confronted by temptation in the form of shrimp, scallops, lobster or bacon, call me 24/7 and I will do everything in my power to assist you.

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