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      A Ticket to Temple:
      My first Passover Seder

      During my senior year at Rhodes, one of my classmates asked me what temple I went to.

      "Temple? I don’t go to temple."

      "You’re Jewish, aren’t you?"


      "And you don’t go to temple?"


      "And maybe never to a seder?"

      "What’s a seder?" I asked

      "And you call yourself a Jew!"

      "Well, I guess that’s what I am," I answered.

      My classmate’s father had passed on several years before. At seventeen, with a younger brother, he had become the man of the house. "I guess you were never bar mitzvahed," he said with wonder.

      "No. But I went to one once. A cousin, I think. So I have been to a temple. It was mostly the party afterwards that was fun."

      His eyes went to the ceiling. "Oh my God," he uttered, "you tell your folks you won’t be home next Tuesday. I’m taking you to temple for Passover, and then we’re going to my house for the first night of seder. I’ll get you a ticket for the service."

      "Ticket?" I asked.

      "Of course, how do you think the synagogue supports itself?"

      The following Tuesday, in dark blue, double-breasted suit and tie I presented myself in front of the synagogue. He handed me a black paper skull cap and I looked at him wonderingly. "That’s a yarmulke," he said, only slightly masking the utter disgust in his voice. "Put it on top of your head. A male can’t go into a synagogue without covering his head. And here’s your ticket."

      I could only understand half of what was said, the rest was in Hebrew. It was rather interesting when they took the Torah from what I later found out was called the Ark. I’d always thought the Ark was a ship that carried Noah, his family, and two of every animal in the world through a forty-day rainstorm. When the service was over and we walked outside, my friend said, "So, what did you think of it?"

      "Not a bad show," I answered.

      "Show? A SHOW?! You’re absolutely blasphemous!" he shouted.

      "Why?" I asked, "you had to buy tickets, didn’t you?"

      The seder was more interesting. There were a few cousins with their parents. My friend, the man of the house, conducted the ritual. His little brother explained everything that was going on, so it made more sense. When he, as the youngest male in the household, asked in Hebrew, "Why is this night different from all other nights?", he explained it to me and the answer in Hebrew, as well. He was due to be bar mitzvahed later that year. And the search for the hidden motzah by the younger children was fun to watch. All in all, a very nice time, but nothing I felt I could become a part of. I was a Jew all right, whatever being a Jew is.

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