Friday, January 28, 2011

Good Ole Jewish Guilt

We passed the Chabad car, and realized that it was parked outside of the synagogue. I nodded, made a mental note to come back before I left and take a picture for my Jew Hunt[1], and that would be enough. However, for The Student, it wasn’t. The Student shouted, “No! Damn it! I didn’t go to Yom Kippur services!” Then he dropped to his knees on the ground.
“Erm,” I said. “Yes, me neither.”
He turned to me with a burning look in his eyes. It was not rage, or anger, it was intensity and guilt. It was the look of Batman without the baggage. The Student, I gathered, was turning into Super Jew. “We are in The Book of Death.”
Pascale looked between the two of us with a concerned look.
“We’re not in The Book of Death,” I said.
He nodded. “We are.”
“No,” I said. I shook my head for emphasis. “You’re an atheist. You don’t believe in The Book of Death because you do not believe in God.”
The Student looked between me and the synagogue and then bolted to the synagogue. The entrance had heavy iron doors with a bolt across them, which, in turn, was behind a shuttered iron gate.
The Student ran—slid might be more accurate—up to the iron gate, pounded on it and yelled, “Succors! Aidez-moi pour succors! Sanctuary! I need to do some belated repenting!” Then he lost his footing and slid down the staircase, laughing and crying simultaneously.
“Perhaps,” I thought to myself, “there’s something about iron gates that makes him flip out. Magnetism or something like that.”
After a few minutes of The Student crying in the fetal position and the light contact of snow upon snow and cobblestone in the street, I walked over, helped him up, and we headed back to Pascale’s place in relative silence.
Around the time when we hit the broad avenues and not the sidestreets, and saw a bunch of students staggering around, clutching each other for sheer, drunken life, I asked Pascale, “Did The Student do this a lot a couple years ago?”
“He did spend a lot of time staring at a girl’s window and listening to the love songs.”
“He was a bit, ah, what is how you say?”
“Yes,” she said.
“You could also tack on ‘slightly disturbed’ and you’d be a bit accurate.”
“Kebab,” said The Student.
“Yeah, we’ll get some kebabs,” I said.
We walked over to one of the many take-away kebab shops on the avenue. Pascale ordered cheesy chips (that aid and succor of drunken students everywhere), I ordered my usual soak-through-Styrofoam-greasy doner meat and chips, and The Student had a massive kebab. As we took the food away, walked down the avenue, and ate, The Student said, “Narrator, do you think HaShem will forgive me?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. He’s kind of bi-polar.”
“You should say ‘yes,’” said Pascale.
I shrugged again. “It’s a momentary relapse into Judaism. It’ll pass by the morning.”
We walked.

[1] Let me explain. This was something I did in every city I visited. I’d drag whoever had let me stay at there place that week around the city and march them around until we found Hasidic Jews. At which point, in celebration, we’d go into a store, buy a bottle of Manischewitz and a loaf of challa bread, leave, and go drink.

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