Tuesday, January 25, 2011

From The Other Side Looking In

Amazing, two weeks in a row we hosted strangers for Shabbat.  The week before we had an intrepid guest who arrived almost miraculously.  And this past week there was a student who considered us and our neighbors research material.  Did she come to pick my brain?  Maybe.

She made it very clear before she came that she isn't Jewish, so we shouldn't be surprised.  That was fair.  Of course if we needed a "shabbos goy," we'd have our very own.  We didn't need one.

Nu, so we were expecting a non-Jew. We didn't expect to host a non-Jew more familiar with Jewish customs and prayers.  She was raised in an area with many Jews.  Many of her childhood friends were Jewish, and she probably attended more Bar/Bat Mitvvot than I did.  She attended the prayer services and couldn't wait to go to our synagogue to see if anything was familiar.

When she discovered that I had been in NCSY, a chapter, regional and national officer, she really got excited.  Her childhood friends were also in NCSY, and she had wished that she had activities like theirs.

My friends were mainly Jewish, except in my early time in Great Neck.  Great Neck North Jr. High School separated the "new" and "veteran" students in the girls "Home Ec" classes.  Anyone who wasn't a student there from the 7th Grade was in a "special class."  I moved there for the 8th grade, and the Catholic girls entered the school in the 9th grade.  That's when I was one of the few Jews in class class, and I got to know the Catholic girls.  Home Ec and Sewing were the only classes where I studied with a large percentage of non-jews.  For me the school felt very "Jewish," sociologically, not religiously.

I never really thought about how it was for the non-Jewish friends of Jews who would find themselves invited to all sorts of Jewish events.  Now, honestly, I got a kick out of discovering that  this intelligent young woman, whom we hosted, finds Judaism attractive and was glad to visit us and experience even more.

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