The Rogue Voice

A LITERARY JOURNAL WITH AN EDGE

May 01, 2008

Bar Mitzvah thwarted


Purim explained to dad that he’d rather be captured and tortured by Egyptians than have me in his Hebrew class.

During this chanting, dad hunched down like a man about to be sent to the guillotine, while mother, the real spiritual Jew in the family, coaxed him to get up there and recite his important Jewish prayers.




A confessional, spring 1953

By Dell Franklin

Since I’d been around 5 or 6, my parents had continually reminded me that when I was 9 I would begin Hebrew school in preparation for my bar mitzvah. I was now 9. Already bored and unbearably rest-less while forced to sit at services in the drab, cinder-block-like Compton synagogue, I had blocked the possibility of going to Hebrew school from my mind as I would a visit to the dentist. During ser-vices, as mother moved her lips to the prayers conducted by the rabbi and stood with the congregation, dad dozed off into a resonant snore from which he was jabbed awake by mother, who chastised me for squirming, making untoward noises, pinching my sister, and aggravating adults who were dead serious about services and appalled by my father and me.
It was torture enough being cooped up in Sunday school when was bursting with energy to flee to the playgrounds to play baseball or football with my hellion gentile friends, but now they expected me to go straight from school (instead of the park and playgrounds) to the synagogue three afternoons a week for Hebrew lessons.
I pleaded with mom and dad to let me “wait a while,” but dad claimed HE started at 9, which was late for most serious Jewish boys, and so now I had to go, too, and be like him and make my bar mitzvah. Dad, for all his defending Jews with his fists, for growing up in an antisemitic neighborhood in Chicago where he beat the shit out of Poles, Germans and Irish who called him sheenie and kike and Jewboy, was a pathetic example of a Jew on those stifling hot days at ser-vices on high holidays, when Jewish man after Jewish man, yarmulkes on heads, shawls on shoulders, walked humbly yet proudly to the stage to recite in perfect nuance and verse from the Torah while the rabbi nodded approvingly. During this chanting, dad hunched down like a man about to be sent to the guillotine, while mother, the real spiritual Jew in the family, coaxed him to get up there and recite his important Jewish prayers — a few lines so simple a gentile could conquer them in two weeks.
When dad was at last spotted in the crowd by the rabbi and beckoned to the stage, and actually stood over the Torah, he appeared stricken, petrified, and this man, deep-voiced, assertive, forceful to the point of intimidation, ex-boxer and Major League ballplayer, was reduced to a sheepish wimp, a blushing wretch as he mumbled in near-inaudible incoherence and stammered under his yarmulke, an old shapeless black rag compared to the shiny white satin caps worn by his fellow Jewish men. Celebrity and hero he was to most of the congregation, they cringed in shocked disbelief and whispered furtively to one another as they witnessed his disgraceful and embarrassing butchering of the Torah, voice growing weaker and weaker.
The poor rabbi, too, was stunned, though he tried to coach and encourage dad and feigned patience until finally nodding to dad that he was released from his misery and could at last sit down, for the good of all, and especially, I suppose, God.
“Some Jew,” I said, jabbing my idol with an elbow, after he sat down beside me. “You were a real pussy up there.”
“That’s enough out of you,” he snapped, mopping sweat off his face and neck. “You’re no one to talk.”
“But I’m just a kid, dad. You’re a grownup.”
“Just shut your mouth, wise guy. You’re starting Hebrew school this week.”
“So I can be like you? Ha ha ha.”
“One more word, and so help me God, I’ll drag you out of here and beat you into a thousand bloody pieces.”
***
I reported to a tall, scholarly-looking sourpuss named Ben Purim, who would be my Hebrew teacher for the next 3 1/2 years. Already my Gentile running mates were clustered at the window of the room at the synagogue, pogoing up and down to gape in, baseball equipment in hand. Purim shooed them away, fixing me with a reprimanding gaze, as did my fellow students, all studious about learning Hebrew and making bar mitzvah.
When I looked at the backwards book with a strange, hieroglyphic-like language, I closed it and yearned for what I was missing on the playgrounds. Purim repeatedly glanced at me as I fidgeted, cleared my throat, snorted, doodled, yawned, clacked my teeth menacingly at Bernie, Shelly, Norman, Steven, Sheila, Ester and Sidney, eventually punching Shelly in the nose and pummeling him into tears when he stuck his tongue out at me and mouthed the word “stupid.”
Purim, shocked and troubled, sent me home and called dad that night. Purim was from Israel and wanted me banned from his class, intimating to dad I was some kind of vitriolic Jew-hater bent on sabotaging his class. Dad bullshitted him for a long time and after hanging up pinned me with a vicious look and informed me that disgruntled Purim had agreed to give me a “second chance after deep misgivings.” Dad made me promise to put a halt to my shenanigans or he was going to “beat me into a thousand bloody pieces.”
I told dad I hated Hebrew school and was miserable there, but he said that part of being a good Jew was “suffering with things you didn’t like and learning about my people and learning Hebrew and making my bar mitzvah.”
This made no sense. “Dad,” I pleaded. “I don’t wanna learn that weird gooble. Look at you…you hate it, too. You can’t recite a word of the Torah, and you know it. Even mother says your bar mitzvah didn’t do YOU any good, or else you’d be able to recite your prayers like those...geeks.”
“At least your father tries,” he argued. “I’ve forgotten a lot because with baseball, and the war, I haven’t had time to go to services.”
“Those geeks who go up there, they been to war, and they work. You HATE it up there, and I don’t ever wanna go up there and chant those prayers.”
“Yes you will!” He was fired up. “You’re a Jew. You should be proud of your religion, and your Jewish heritage. Millions of Jews died and made sacrifices so you can be here today. I fought every Jew hating no-good bastard I could, and I have all my life, and now what do I have for a son? An antisemite, a Jew hater.”
“I’m no Jew hater. I just don’t like any of those Jewish kids. I like my own friends, dad. Why can’t I be with my friends, if they’re not Jews?”
“That’s not the point,” he burbled, getting flustered. “You’re changing the subject. And I’ll tell you what wise guy — you’re going back to Hebrew school tomorrow afternoon, and that’s that! You hear?”
Next class, Purim asked me to recite a few words. I hadn’t read the book and knew nothing. He glared at me, and I glared back, while my fellow students snickered. Sheila, beside me, a future replica of her yenta nonstop gabby mother, issued me a look indicating I was a loathsome putrid slime-ball, and when I returned the look she slapped me and I pinched her hard on the ass and she squealed and jumped up and ran around the room sobbing, and then Purim went crazy, also chasing me around the room, babbling at me, face all red.
He chased me out of the room and through the synagogue and out front, where my pals were waiting for me, baseball equipment in hand, and I hightailed it down the street, leaving him puffing and glowering on the front steps of the synagogue.
That night Purim explained to dad that he’d rather be captured and tortured by Egyptians than have me in his class, maintaining I was worst student he’d ever had.
Dad did not “beat me into a thousand bloody pieces,” which I had a hard time visualizing, but he did render me a tepid strapping. He’d never been this angry with me before. And right off he and mom, who was also miffed and shocked, managed to dig up another Hebrew private tutor for me across town. I had to take a bus and then a street car through the black part of town to meet this tutor in a Jewish neighborhood. He proved to be a reasonable and understanding man with long whiskers. After an hour he told me he could not teach me Hebrew because I refused to learn it and was so unhappy he felt terrible and could not endure being around me. He called dad and reported this fact, and then dad and mom engaged in a long, serious discussion which I listened to, my ear glued to their bedroom door.
The discussion grew into a raging argument, and finally a shouting match and verbal war. Mother refused to back down in her defense of me. Dad’s sticking points were the usual: He’d had to do it, it was the right thing to do, so I had to do it, and he didn’t see any-thing wrong with raising me like his father raised him, because HE’D turned out okay!
They argued into the night, were barely talking the next morn-ing at the breakfast nook. An agreement was made that I was hereby released from Hebrew school, and, if I changed my mind later, I could always go back when I was more mature and realized the importance of making my bar mitzvah.
“Honey,” my mother said. “I can’t bear to see you so unhappy.” Dad stood with coffee cup in hand, glowering down at me. A relentless, vicious competitor who could not bear to lose, he’d lost this round, and he didn’t like it. §

Dell Franklin is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at publisher@roguevoice.com.

23 Comments:

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heya great blog! Does running a blog such as this take a great deal of work?
I have virtually no understanding of coding however I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future.
Anyway, if you have any recommendations or
tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off topic but I simply had to ask.
Thank you!

Also visit my web-site ... Recommended Site

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
You clearly know what youre talking about, why
throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?


Check out my blog post :: Suggested Web page

 
At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your weblog seems to be having some compatibilty problems in my firefox
browser. The content seems to be running off the webpage pretty bad.
If you would like you can email me at: janettenall@arcor.
de and I will shoot you over a screen grab of the problem.


Check out my blog - link building companies

 
At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's truly a great and useful piece of info. I'm glad that you simply shared this useful information
with us. Please keep us up to date like this.
Thanks for sharing.

Here is my web page ... Read the Full Posting

 
At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you
knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.

I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

Here is my website: just click the following website

 
At 4:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there. I noticed your blog title, "Blogger: The Rogue Voice"
doesn't really reflect the content of your internet site. When composing your site title, do you believe it's most beneficial to write it for
Web optimization or for your readers? This is something I've been battling with simply because I want great search rankings but at the same time I want the best quality for my site visitors.

Also visit my blog :: virginia auto insurance quotes

 
At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi fantastic website! Does running a blog similar to this
require a lot of work? I've absolutely no expertise in programming but I had been hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyways, if you have any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off topic nevertheless I just had to ask. Thanks!

Here is my site :: link building package ()

 
At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

My webpage :: Read Even more

 
At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren't loading properly. I'm not sure why but I think its a
linking issue. I've tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

Here is my blog post: just click the next article ()

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a pity you don't have a donate button!
I'd without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I suppose for now i'll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google
account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this website with
my Facebook group. Talk soon!

Also visit my website; click for source ()

 
At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there are using Wordpress for your blog platform? I'm new to the blog world but I'm
trying to get started and create my own. Do you need
any coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!



Here is my webpage; Read More In this article

 
At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really loving the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility issues? A small number of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any ideas to help fix this issue?

Here is my weblog ... dofollow backlink

 
At 12:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doh! I was domain name searching at namecheap.
com and went to type in the domain name: http://www.
blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=29194742&postID=8568533245953466145
and guess who already acquired it? You did! haha j/k.
I was about to purchase this domain name but noticed it had been taken so I figured I'd come check it out. Awesome blog!

my web page ... Full Posting ()

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrific post however , I was wondering if you could write a
litte more on this subject? I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Kudos!

Review my weblog seo backlinks

 
At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three emails with the
same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that
service? Thanks a lot!

Check out my page ... search engine optimization service

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

coach purses, louis vuitton handbags, kate spade outlet online, nike air max, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet store, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet online, coach outlet store online, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton, louboutin shoes, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, gucci handbags, oakley vault, longchamp handbags, polo ralph lauren, coach outlet, michael kors outlet online, tiffany and co jewelry, jordan shoes, burberry outlet online, ray ban outlet, nike air max, coach outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, kate spade handbags, red bottom shoes, ray ban sunglasses, chanel handbags, christian louboutin shoes, nike free, tory burch outlet, christian louboutin outlet, nike shoes, prada handbags, tiffany jewelry, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet online, prada outlet, longchamp outlet online, michael kors outlet online

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

north face pas cher, louis vuitton pas cher, nike roshe run, hollister, barbour, ralph lauren pas cher, converse pas cher, nike air max, vans pas cher, nike air force, abercrombie and fitch, nike trainers, louis vuitton uk, true religion outlet, mulberry, sac louis vuitton, ray ban pas cher, nike huarache, nike free pas cher, michael kors canada, hollister, timberland, longchamp pas cher, hermes pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, air max, nike blazer pas cher, longchamp, ray ban uk, lacoste pas cher, michael kors uk, chaussure louboutin, air max pas cher, nike free, sac michael kors, louis vuitton, burberry pas cher, ralph lauren, nike roshe, air jordan, true religion outlet, new balance pas cher, lululemon, oakley pas cher, guess pas cher, nike air max, scarpe hogan, tn pas cher, north face, true religion

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

babyliss pro, p90x workout, valentino shoes, canada goose pas cher, rolex watches, canada goose outlet, abercrombie and fitch, mcm handbags, lululemon outlet, canada goose outlet, new balance outlet, soccer shoes, bottega veneta, wedding dresses, insanity workout, hollister, canada goose, jimmy choo shoes, ugg outlet, ugg boots, north face outlet, uggs outlet, ghd, asics shoes, marc jacobs outlet, giuseppe zanotti, ferragamo shoes, longchamp, reebok outlet, birkin bag, north face jackets, canada goose uk, celine handbags, vans outlet, nfl jerseys, uggs on sale, ugg, moncler, mont blanc pens, roshe run, canada goose outlet, moncler outlet, mac cosmetics, chi flat iron, herve leger, beats headphones, moncler, ugg soldes, soccer jerseys, instyler ionic styler

 
At 7:20 PM, Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 12.31
tory burch outlet, ugg boots, louis vuitton outlet, burberry outlet online, louboutin, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, burberry, polo ralph lauren outlet, christian louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, louboutin shoes, michael kors, polo ralph lauren outlet, chanel handbags, oakley sunglasses, prada handbags, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, gucci outlet, longchamp outlet, uggs on sale, louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet, nike outlet, ugg boots, louis vuitton, nike free, tiffany and co, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, michael kors outlet, replica watches, longchamp, prada outlet, replica watches, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, ugg boots, louis vuitton, nike air max, tiffany jewelry, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet

 
At 7:20 PM, Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 12.31
tory burch outlet, ugg boots, louis vuitton outlet, burberry outlet online, louboutin, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, burberry, polo ralph lauren outlet, christian louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, louboutin shoes, michael kors, polo ralph lauren outlet, chanel handbags, oakley sunglasses, prada handbags, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, gucci outlet, longchamp outlet, uggs on sale, louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet, nike outlet, ugg boots, louis vuitton, nike free, tiffany and co, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, michael kors outlet, replica watches, longchamp, prada outlet, replica watches, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, ugg boots, louis vuitton, nike air max, tiffany jewelry, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet

 
At 7:27 PM, Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

michael kors, ralph lauren uk, nike air max, converse pas cher, vanessa bruno, true religion outlet, vans pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, coach purses, ray ban uk, abercrombie and fitch, nike air max, nike free, new balance pas cher, nike free run uk, true religion jeans, hermes, oakley pas cher, nike roshe run, ray ban pas cher, air force, michael kors, mulberry, nike air max, nike blazer, hogan, lacoste pas cher, burberry, air max, air jordan pas cher, sac longchamp, longchamp pas cher, coach outlet, north face, tn pas cher, michael kors, michael kors, north face, true religion jeans, longchamp, nike roshe, sac guess, hollister, nike trainers, louboutin pas cher, replica handbags, hollister pas cher, nike huarache, true religion jeans, timberland, lululemon

 
At 7:29 PM, Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

mcm handbags, north face outlet, soccer jerseys, nike roshe, beats by dre, nike air max, nfl jerseys, converse, bottega veneta, ghd, ray ban, asics running shoes, ralph lauren, mac cosmetics, iphone 5s cases, ferragamo shoes, soccer shoes, baseball bats, iphone 6s plus cases, iphone cases, s5 cases, wedding dresses, north face outlet, jimmy choo shoes, vans shoes, vans, reebok shoes, birkin bag, new balance, hollister, instyler, celine handbags, herve leger, mont blanc, iphone 6 cases, valentino shoes, p90x workout, ipad cases, louboutin, giuseppe zanotti, babyliss, chi flat iron, iphone 6s cases, iphone 6 plus cases, abercrombie and fitch, gucci, hollister, oakley, nike air max, timberland boots, lululemon, insanity workout

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

louis vuitton, canada goose, karen millen, pandora charms, moncler, converse outlet, pandora jewelry, links of london, canada goose, wedding dresses, lancel, moncler, canada goose uk, supra shoes, replica watches, moncler outlet, hollister, toms shoes, doke gabbana outlet, canada goose, doudoune canada goose, coach outlet, canada goose outlet, moncler, ugg boots uk, canada goose, louis vuitton, ugg pas cher, swarovski, barbour, pandora jewelry, marc jacobs, moncler, bottes ugg, louis vuitton, moncler, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton pas cher, canada goose outlet, montre pas cher, barbour jackets, pandora charms, juicy couture outlet, moncler, juicy couture outlet, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, thomas sabo, swarovski crystal, moncler, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia
nienst123 12.31

 

Post a Comment

<< Home