Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baby's First Self-Abnegating Mockery. But Surely, If Baby is of My Tribe, Not the Last.

Who can forget the first time they heard this great phrase:

Did you get the evite to the bris?

Okay, well, I've actually only heard it once, years ago on a visit to Jew York.  And technically I overheard it, because somebody was saying it to someone else.  

So no, I didn't get, never have got, the evite to the bris.  I guess I'm not that popular among the digitally-savvy catered ritual circumcision set. 

Actually, I just checked. Bris doesn't make the cut (as it were) among the alphabetized list of standard evite templates.  Indeed, the entire section of templates called Baby's First does not seem to include that particular Jewish phenom Baby's First what is that shaky old man doing with that knife and why is everybody looking at me so weird and ahhhhhhhhhh what the hell happened to that whole kill the ram instead idea?  

I suppose you can substitute of these standard Baby's First evite selections for your next bris, if you get creative with the captions:

That's One Way to Snuff the Candle!

Wait, Those Don't Look Like the TOENAIL Clippers

I'm One-dering What Happened to the Rest of My Smokestack!
Please Stop Saying How Cute It Looks All Little and Waggly

I was reminded of the evite-to-the-bris query because I just received a bat mitzvah invitation.  Though the invite itself was still of the old school printed-and-stuck-in-the-post persuasion, instead of an RSVP card, there was a request to RSVP to [common Jewish girl's name]

Suddenly I understood why every few years a new web-based email catches on.  So that the Jews can each have their unique simcha RSVP addresses. - that was probably taken back during the Clinton administration.   - can you get more Windows98? - been there, davened that.

Still, it's a little weird to see my 3000 year old religion suddenly become trendy.  Inspired by the bat mitzvah invitation, I googled Nachamu, the first word of the haftorah I chanted back in the day (Nachamu means "Comfort" in Hebrew, although my mother insisted it meant "Again" in Yiddish as she nagged me to practice it over and over again . . . thus proving that to a true Jewish mother, comfort and nagging — same thing). 

Gawky thirteen year old me, as I Nachamu-ed and Nachamu-ed through the summer of 1981, could I ever have imagined that my very bat mitzvah day would end up appropriated by the most Catholic of icons?

No, I don't mean Mother Teresa.

I mean the Material Girl.  Whom none of us had ever heard of back when I was heading to the bima.

Think of it, a headline so improbable the supermarket tabloids wouldn't even print it:  
My Bat Mitzvah Saved Madonna's Marriage!

Er, except it turns out, the Madonna-Guy Ritchie marriage was about as saved as ... well, as my squeeze the Cheez's Born-Again mother thinks my soul is.

Back when I was thirteen, the name Madonna referred to someone who wasn't so much Like a Virgin as, well, THE Virgin.  And if being Catholic wasn't particularly fun on a date, being Jewish was even worse.  Jew=nebbishe neurotic Woody Allen.  

Now, in a flash like a bris evite swooping through the internets, we are cool. 

One minute you're Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, a kid who plays the French Horn in your New Jersey high school band (What, you couldn't get nerdier than that?  Had little Davey Hershkowitz nabbed the last tuba in the band room?  Or did you figure this was the only way to get your pubescent lips and French in the same sentence?).  The next thing you know, you are being called the sexiest man alive.  

Forget a black man is president. 

A Jewish man is sexy!  

That, my friends, is an historic occasion.

Or as we like to call it, a miracle.

The sort of miracle that really does make you want to Welcome Moshiach With Acts of Loving Kindness.

(If you didn't get that joke, or any of the other bits of Jew humor herein, please don't feel bad.  Me, I am a Jew, and a humorist, and I still didn't get the evite to the bris.  I guess feeling like you're missing something is the essence of Jewish identity.  Right down to the foreskin).  

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