I breathe a huge sigh of relief when my animal-lover daughter turns twenty and switches her life focus from increasing our family pet menagerie to pursuing a romantic relationship instead. (Thank you, Hashem! Jewish grandkiddies can’t be far behind, right?!) However, it instantly opens a new can of worms when she asks what kind of traits to look for in a potential spouse? I mention ‘being Jewish,’ and she gives a quizzical look. “The more in common, the more likely your marriage will be successful,” I explain. Now fasten your seatbelts, cuz here we go!
Daughter: But you and dad are both Jewish and you guys still got divorced. So how does marrying someone Jewish actually help?
Me: (flustered) Um…uh, well we would’ve divorced much sooner if one of us wasn’t Jewish. Also you should both have the same level of observancy. That was our problem. If someone serves a dinner of cheeseburgers and milkshakes and the other one keeps Kosher, it won’t go well. If someone wants the household to abstain from motor vehicles on Shabbat, but the other one works for Toyota – and Saturday is the biggest day for test-driving cars then it’s—
Daughter: Okay already! I get it! So I should avoid someone who’s too Jewish and also who’s not enough Jewish? I’m looking for the just the right amount of Jewishness? Who am I? Goldilocks?
Me: Don’t get smart, young lady. Just give me Jewish grandkiddies, that’s all I ask.
Daughter: But the right kind of Jewish is so complicated. That’s why I’m choosing Christopher. He’ll look good in a yarmulke, and he’ll learn how to stomp on a wine glass…so simple!
Me: Christopher? That doesn’t sound like any kinda Jewish name I’ve ever heard of.
Daughter: Exactly! We learned in Sunday school that being Jewish runs down the maternal side. So your grandkiddies will automatically be Jewish, no matter who I marry, simply because I am.
At this point I remember the part of Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye remarks, “As the good book says, each shall seek his own kind.” But look at my daughter’s eyes…so hopeful. If I keep kvetching at her to marry within our faith, she’s liable to borrow a book from Fyedka, then run off to be married by a priest in some church in the little town of Anatefka. Instead, I ask how Christopher’s family feels about their relationship?
Daughter: He’s actually going to find out when his father returns from the National Cherry Pit Spitting Convention this Sunday. Luckily his mom already graciously gave us two thumbs up…right before she passed out on a chair at a casino slot machine. But his grandparents are kinda hard to reach at the homeless shelter ever since their cellphones were turned off.
Oy! Clearly there are far bigger problems than whether or not I’ll dance the hora at my future grandkiddie’s Bar Mitzvahs. Still, I can’t help but lament my grandkiddies missing out on lighting the menorah, never sleeping in a sukkah, or getting to complain about fasting on Yom Kippur. But wait! A text comes thru that makes everything a moot point…
Daughter: Hi mom! Well, I did what I knew would make you happy – I broke up with Christopher. But do you still wanna meet your brand new Jewish grandkiddies? I’m excited to introduce them to you, so I’ll be right over!
What? How is this even possible?! Nevertheless, just reading the word ‘grandkiddies’ gets me ready to spoil them and kvell on Facebook! As I run around cleaning, readying my camera, and cooking up a pot of matzo ball soup, there’s a knock at the door. Flinging it open, I come face to face with my three new grandkiddies—a Persian, a Tabby, and a Siamese—each wearing a tiny yarmulke and a miniature tallit. Oy! If only I had taught my daughter to be a better speller…but there’s no denying that in my daughter’s arms ARE three Jewish grandkitties. Now I just need to change the title of this column to “Tails of Turning Twenty.”