The Mrs. told me a story that I often replay in my head. Mind you, this detail is hearsay. She, Little and Big were at their ‘besties’ house for a play date after the start of the school year.
Big and her BFF somehow got on the topic of discussing heaven. Mind you, the BFF brought this topic up. She said it was the most beautiful place ever, with harps and pearly gates and great scenery. Her Grandma had told her all about it. She mentioned Jesus and angels and all sorts of things. Big, turning pensive for just a moment, replied to her BFF, “Well, I’ve been to Tuscany!”
Now, to be fair, ‘besties’ Mom, a true pragmatist, interrupted with, “Now M, we don’t know if heaven is real. Nobody has come back and told us about it. No one has let us know there are real angels…”
I love this! I laugh out loud every time it comes to mind. What a stunning answer from Big. From my perspective, Tuscany is, well, heavenly. The food. The scenery. The smells. Our time together with family…She just may be right? It was, to say the least, a great response!
For the record, I was raised Jewish. I went to Hebrew school and decided against becoming a Bat Mitzvah (rite of passage into adulthood, still deemed more important for boys than girls—think Barbara Streisand and Yentl; also, a ridiculously expensive party), because quite frankly, I didn’t have the chutzpah (balls) to stand up in front of a big crowd and read from the Torah (Scrolls containing the Five books of Moses), sing and speak Hebrew, and garner all that attention. (Remember, I did not have a voice until my 30’s.)
As a kid, we spent a lot of time vacationing in the Borscht Belt (very popular resort hotels for Jews located in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York). I use Yiddish in my writing, a very robust language that is dying, because it really drives home the point in a way that plain English can’t offer. I love this language. It reminds me of my very loving, very wonderful, Nanny Helen. A time when I was known as “Lisa-la.” I can almost smell the ruggaluch (wonderful sweet Jewish cookies) baking when I shut my eyes…I’m no maven (expert) with my Yiddish usage, but I do hope to keep it alive buzzing.
I don’t really practice Judaism. I love the culture and the Haimish’a (warm and friendly) feel, but I lost my faith when I lost my Aunt Mimi. No amount of prayer stopped her pain and suffering. No amount of prayer made her get better. No amount of prayer made me feel better about losing her. Prayer didn’t let me understand that she went to a better place. Azoy vert dus kuchel tzekrokhen. (Literally, this means: That’s the way the cookie crumbles!)
Please know and understand that I do not begrudge anyone with religious beliefs. In fact, I am a bit envious. I do practice Tai Chi and being a good person.
All that being said, the Mrs. is a non-practicing shiksa (non-Jewish female). Many would find that alone a shonda (tragedy). I think it’s pretty awesome. Our kinder (the children), shana madelahs (beautiful little girls) that they are, learn diversity and acceptance (#HumanityMatters) right here, under our roof. That translates exponentially to the outside world, where it is so desperately needed. (It also provides the best of the holiday season, with celebrations of both Chanukah and Christmas.)
So that’s my shtick (funny story) and I’m sticking to it. L’ Chiam (To life!) and Zey gezunt (go in good health).
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