The Jazz Rabbi, Part 2
27. Oct. 2018
Going to Temple
I went to the Orthodox Temple on Saturday. I wore my favorite gray cardigan sweater, khaki slacks, wing-tip shoes and a white shirt. The only person I knew here was the Rabbi. Upon entering I was handed a yamaka. I was told that I could keep it. It was really nice. My first yamaka.
I sat on the men's side of the temple. There were pews just like any church. There were prayer books too. There were hymnals. There were not communion shot glasses. We were not going to drink the blood of Christ, grape juice (Southern Conservative Baptist) or wine (Catholic).
The temple was warm. The pulpit was there. The Torah arrived on time.
Everyone was friendly. I felt comfortable. The men wore the prayer clothes. The unusual part to me were the boxes strapped to their heads. I couldn’t help but to think of the word “cube” which has roots with the word “Kaaba”
The service went on. I sang the hymns. I read the scriptures. I saw the English translations. One thing caught my eye. A hymn translated in English was thankful that the People of the Book were not made as Gentiles, Slaves or Women. I couldn’t blame them for not wanting to be Gentiles. But it stuck with me.
After the service a man walked up to me. He was about 40 years old. He looked intelligent and friendly. He introduced himself and we shook hands.
I told him why I was there. He asked if I was circumcised. I was. He knew that I was not born a Jew but he could care less. I was interesting to him. He invited me to his home for dinner. It turns out that he and the Rabbi were very good friends.
I am a little foggy on whether we left the temple to go to his home or I was to arrive later. So I’ll just move on to the arrival at his home. His home was within walking distance of the temple and my apartment. I didn’t drive.
I arrived at his home. I knocked on the door. The door open. His whole family was there to greet me. At about the same time the Rabbi arrived too. Again, did we walk from the temple or just arrive at the same time? I dunno.
The man introduced his wife. She was an attractive, smart looking lady. I reached out my hand to shake hers. She shook my hand but said, “Because we are Orthodox men don’t shake hands with women. It’s OK. You’ll learn.” I looked at my new friend, her husband and he smiled and nodded. I shook his hand too.
Their sons were also at the door. One son was a military looking fellow and another looked more like a liberal arts guy. I was both so I could tell either way. The two sons smiled and shook my hand in turn. Everyone, Mom, Dad and the sons, had great hand shakes. These people were definitely outstanding world-class Americans.
The Family greeted the Rabbi as an old friend. We were both invited inside. “Please come in.”
There are two insides here. Inside of me and inside of the house. The inside of the house was comfortable, clean and there was no television to be seen.
There were books on shelves. There were curio cabinets with nick-knacks. We were seated in the living room. Adjacent there was a large table in a dining area.
I sat on a couch. The Rabbi sat beside me. The father, the sons, and the Rabbi all spoke with me and each other. The father was a U.S. Navy officer. One of the sons was serving in the Israeli army. Another son was a scholar.
The conversation segued to Islam. I had told them that I had actually been a muslim a few years back. We discussed Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael and how the Jews and Arabs were cousins. One son, the liberal arts guy, said to his father, “So the Arabs are actually our brothers?”
“Yes.” Said the father.
Again the question of whether I was circumcised came up from one of the sons. “Yes, he’s been circumcised.” Jumps in the father to his son. Everyone seemed satisfied with that answer.
Eventually Mom calls us to dinner. The table was full of food. I was hungry for sure. I had only eaten my butter biscuits. I still had my 20 dollars from selling plasma. Depending on how tonight went I was either going to get some food later or some booze. Or I just might turn my life around and find God.
Inside I was praying to God now. I was thankful for the new friends and the dinner. I sat opposite of the two sons and the Rabbi. Dad sat at the head of the table facing the front door. Mom moved about preparing and serving.
We all broke bread together.
I started to sweat a little now. I began to think about me being a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. I had not eaten chicken, beef, or pork (no worries here) in 11 years. I then let go. I said to God in my mind, “OK, if I am served chicken soup I will eat it. I’ll eat whatever I am given. I am in your hands, God.” Done. I had prayed my last prayer before I was going to be fed animals.
The soup bowl arrived. It was a very nice large soup bowl. I could smell the chicken soup. As Mom gently placed it before me I looked up at her and smiled. Then the miracle happened.
With the bowl in front of me and her right hand holding the edge she said with gently concern, “Are you vegetarian?”
I almost fell out of my chair. I almost cried. Where the did that come from? I said, “Yes.” as if I had just been caught stealing cookies.
She smiled. “Well, why didn’t you tell me! It’s not a problem let me get you some different soup.”
I looked around. No one was shocked. No one disapproved. This cosmopolitan Orthodox family had knowledge of many things strange, good and human. I was just another guest who was to be honored. So I had my first Kosher Vegetarian dinner at their house. I didn’t even have to tap-dance in order to vent my concern. God had made sure that I was comfortable and loved.
As we all continued to eat. The subject of my Jewish future developed. The Rabbi was against it. The father was for it. The sons were for it. The mother, Mom, she said, “Don’t let Rabbi (Name Withheld) talk you out of this. He’s just very cautious. You know we are your family so let us worry about him.
I was already part of the family. The Rabbi was none perturbed at the conversation. This was normal rapport. Here one could discuss openly anything in a civil manner. No behind the back talk. It was all out in the open.
After dinner we all shook hands and said goodbye to each other. The Rabbi and I left at the same time. He went home and I went to my apartment on the other side of Colley Ave. We were to have a few more discussions and interactions. Then I just stopped. I moved onto something else. I will always remember the miracle and the family and the Rabbi. I think I need to say hello some time again but that was 21 years ago!
Writing by Alex Nuttall, title: The Jazz Rabbi, Part 2, Original Date: 20181026 – © Alexander Blair Nuttall / OgFOMK ArTS 2018 – 2018 – Retro-published 20181026.
"The Jazz Rabbi, Part 2" is about how Alex Nuttall went through a brief Judaic phase. It all started with a crazy dream about a drumming Viking who said, "Shalom". Some of the details in this story have been changed to protect and respect the privacy of others. Part 2 shows the great miracle that happened. Posted by Alexander Nuttall October 25, 2018 (https://www.ogfomk.com)
#OgFOMK #AlexNuttall #Faith #JazzRabbi #Judaism #Pray #Shalom
“The Jazz Rabbi, Part 2“ – 26. Oct. 2018 – Writing, Non-Fiction, Judaism, Faith
#OgFOMK #AlexNuttall #Faith #JazzRabbi #Judaism #Pray #Shalom
© Alexander Nuttall / OgFOMK ArTS 2018 - 2018 | 20181026 -ABN – Ed Date: 2018-10-26 05:56