Thursday, February 14, 2013

Do they dance at your church?

This happened when I was in high school. A black girl who I didn’t know asked me, “You’re Jewish, aren’t you?”

She was really beautiful which was intimidating. I wasn’t used to pretty girls talking to me who didn’t have to. I was used to people asking me if I was Jewish. The question that usually followed was, “What do Jews think about Jewish?” So, I had mixed feelings about this beautiful black girl talking to me.

“Yes, I’m Jewish,” I replied.

“Do they dance at your church?”

I didn’t see that one coming.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I heard that Jewish people dance during church services. Is that true?”

The only time I remembered dancing during a service at my synagogue (I didn’t bother to point out that we attend synagogue instead of church) was on Simchat Torah. I had mixed feelings about the holiday because it celebrates coming to the end of the Torah scrolls (finally) and starting from the beginning again (what?). I explained that Simchat Torah was the only holiday that included dancing as part of the service, but normally we didn’t dance at all.

“I thought ya’ll danced in circles at your church,” she said.

“You’re thinking of when we dance the hora. We only do that at weddings and bar mitzvahs, and only in the social hall after the service.”

“Oh, I see,” she said thoughfully.

I was feeling good. I had just had a conversation with a pretty girl and hadn’t sounded like a complete idiot. But her original question nagged at me and I just had to ask.

“Don’t they dance at your church?” I asked.

She smiled. “Oh yes. We dance all the time.”

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