A Primer for George Allen
Mazel Tov! Welcome to the Tribe, George!
Now that you've decided to embrace your other heritage, you're probably wondering, "Well, what does being Jewish really mean? And will it conflict with my race-baiting, confederate flag-waving, noose-swinging ways?" As a New York Jew (albeit, a secular one who's really more of an atheist than anything else), I'm here to help you navigate your way through your own personal Awakening.
It's really quite fortunate for you that you've discovered your Judaic roots this close to Rosh Hashanah, or as we like to call it, "Rusha Homa." It's the Jewish New Year, George, and you get to party like it's 1862! Now while I'd advise against burning any crosses this weekend, what you can do is celebrate with your family by ringing in the New Year with apples, honey, challah and wine. Oh, and tell your wife to 86 the shrimp platter. I know, I know, but it says so in that wacky book of Leviticus!
Do you have a mezuzah up on your doorway yet? No? Here, I picked one out for you. It kind of has that whole "Western" woody vibe. I think you'll like it.
There's a little scroll inside with some verses of Deuteronomy. Now remember, you touch it every time you enter or exit your home. It's basically like saying, "Hey, God, thanks for the Rams' winning season." And yes, it does identify the house as belonging to a Jew, but worrying about a pogrom in your neighborhood is so . . . 20th century.
Oh, and since you're probably going to start studying for your bar mitzvah (no, it's never too late, George), you might need to acquaint yourself with the Torah. Yes, I know, sounds like "Tora Bora". We get that a lot. You think that the Arabic alphabet is funny looking? Just wait until you get to tackle Hebrew!
The Torah, George, is a sacred scroll that contains the Jewish Scriptures. And while you might be tempted to taunt your sister by poking her with the handles, that's really not a good idea. Besides, you're only allowed to touch it during the ceremony. Otherwise, the rabbi might get peeved.
Here's the really cool part. During your bar mitzvah, you get to wear a prayer shawl, or "tallit," while you read your chosen passages to the audience. It's got tassels and everything.
Your dad is supposed to give it to you, but now that he's considered a shaygitz, you'll probably be receiving it from the rabbi.
What's a shaygitz? Oh, you'll be learning a whole new language, George! A "shaygitz" is a Gentile man like your dad. Y'know, I think that for your bar mitzvah, I'm going to personally send you a copy of Leo Rosten's "The Joys of Yiddish." Do you know what a "schvartze" is? I'll let you find that one out on your own.
And don't forget your yarmulke, George. For really fancy occasions, you can have your wife needlepoint you one. Hey, I bet she could stitch a yarmulke with the Confederate flag on it. THAT would be perfect for you!
See, even Bill Clinton likes wearing a yarmulke. And he's more Southern than you are!
Well, that should tide you over until Yom Kippur, when you get to atone for all of your sins in one day! We Jews (well, at least the religious ones) don't believe in dragging it out over the year, schlepping to Church every Sunday and reading off a litany of our sins. Nope, we're all about the economy of atonement. Of course, you're not allowed to eat for 24 hours while you atone, but afterward? Oh, the whitefish you will know! And don't get me started on matzoh. My god, it's like eating cabbage, what it does to your GI tract.
Anyway, next week we'll discuss money-lending practices and usury, which, as a Senator, you're probably already very familiar with. Methinks your wife will appreciate your newfound proximity to diamond dealers, if you follow my drift.
And remind your shiksa wife to light the Sabbath candles tomorrow at sundown. And to lose the honeyed ham she was planning for Sunday.