Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Eighth Jewish

The year Zach was twelve, Zach is my youngest son, he announced he wanted to convert. To Judaism. He wanted to be Jewish he said. A girl in his class was dating a Jewish boy he said. He had been studying up on it he said. So, I'm listening.  For weeks, I am listening to his endless diatribe about converting to Judaism. Now, if you look at Zach, when his hair is grown out, he could pass for a Jewish boy. We have naturally curly hair, and he has a head full of it when he's not shaving it off. He thinks, between the studying and the hair...he's got this thing licked. And I do have to admit, I have been told by both of my sons, that a wonderful Jewish mother I would have made. Between the worrying, carefully applied guilt, and nagging...I fit that part perfectly. And I do a mean accent impersonation of a Jewish mother if I do say so myself.

However, somewhere in the ensuing weeks, Zach slips. It suddenly becomes all too apparent that the biggest attraction for this whole "I want to be a Jewish boy" thing is this....the Barmitzvah.  Ah, yes....THE party for a 13 year old Jewish Boy. The PARTY of all PARTIES. When a boy becomes a man in the Jewish world. I had to be honest, and tell my son, that a party is not a good enough reason to convert to any religion. No matter that it sounded like a dang hoot of an idea. So, this idea is a dead one. We move on. He would still (and does) bring it up occasionally, with a forlorn look and the sounds of what might have been. But he's moved on.

I thought, he had moved on. This past Christmas, we are spending the night at my family's house in Albany. It's bedtime, everyone is getting prepared for sleep. I am going to sleep in their living room on the couch. I have showered and am in my bedclothes. The couch is made up for sleep. Both boys make their way to see me, to tell me goodnight. They both have a seat and as usual, we begin to talk. About everything, and nothing. This is what we do when we're together, which we seldom are anymore, because of life and growing up. Anyway, we're all jibber jabbering about one thing or another, I look up , and see a wall hanging above their living room door. It says...Shalom. That's it..nothing more..just..Shalom. I look at my oldest son and say "what the hell is a Shalom sign doing above the door"..I'm laughing now, he is laughing, and I say, "Are we Jewish and no one told me?" This is some 3 years later. I don't think about our last parlay with Judaism. I don't remember at this moment in time, the zest and vigor Zach put towards converting to be a Jewish boy. I'm still laughing, Josh is laughing, as Zach sits stone-faced. Staring at both of us. As I am processing his look, and what it means, it begins. He wants to know what the sign is there it real...why did no one tell him. As all of this ranting is going on, in between our (Josh and I) alternate eye rolling and hysterical laughter, my mom and dad come in. Probably to see what all the raucous is about. Josh and I bring them up to speed. And it continues to roll..down hill....for me. Yes, it turns out, after some historical family investigation on my Daddy's part, we are indeed part Jewish. Enough so, that Zach and Josh could very well be 1/8 Jewish, because I am 1/4. Which is enough to qualify Zachary for a Barmitzvah. He could have indeed, had the party of a lifetime, 3 years ago.

We are all laughing so hard now, everyone but Zach, who is demanding this be taken seriously. This injustice.
I tell him, he'll be 16 years old  in March, we'll make it up to him with a Sweet Sixteen Party. He is not amused. We all laugh even harder, again, everyone but Zach. I tell him, if he's really interested, we can look into it. Check out what all needs to be done. To convert. No, he says with a drama-filled voice as he holds his head down, shaking it from side to side.  The damage is done now. The time has passed. Which equates to, turn out the lights, the party is over. The Barmitzvah party that is.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims


  1. This could only happen to you Michelle!!( like I've said can't make this stuff up)LOL. Poor Zach lost out on his big party. I think he deserves a do-over!! :)