The Shabbes Wife

Growing up as a totally secular Jew, I was always intrigued by the idea of the shabbes goy—a non-Jew who would perform certain tasks for Jews on the Jewish Sabbath, tasks they were forbidden to do themselves (such as turning on a light, which would count as “work” on the day of rest). It seemed pretty sneaky to me—a way to follow the letter of the holy law while violating it in spirit. By which I mean to say: I dug it.

Heaven’s Snake

“Is the cornsnake Jewish?” This was a tough question to answer. I was visiting with the first-grade class taught by my then-girlfriend, who had introduced me to her students as “Farmer Josh” — and then thrust a large-ish cornsnake into my less-than-willing hands.

Culture Klatch

My son’s middle school was having a “culture fair” recently, so he asked me for some guidance. His task was to create a display that described his Jewish heritage.

Fasting for Tom Zipper

I sent a text to my rabbi, asking whether I would have to give up coffee for Yom Kippur — but my cell phone “corrected” my message, assuming that “Yom Kippur” was my typo-laden attempt to thumb-type “Tom Zipper.” My rabbi texted me back, asking (reasonably enough) why this Tom Zipper fellow would want me to give up coffee.

Excerpts from a Diary

March 28, 1964: Father has been acting quite secretive this week—I think he’s obsessed with hiding the afikomen so I can’t find it this time. Last year he seemed disappointed that I found it so quickly—also, that I wasn’t so thrilled with my present, a simple yo-yo that I felt unsuitable for a sophisticated five-year-old such as myself.