The Yentas at Church

I went to my first Catholic wedding last weekend. El Yenta Man has a doll of a client who finally tied the knot with her beau of eight years, and we were honored to receive an invitation. I love weddings no matter what the denomination – the joining of two souls under the Creator and all that. Plus, you know me – I am all about free food.

But first, we had to go to church. This used to make me nervous until I realized that setting foot inside a Christian house of worship would not actually erase my Jewishness and make all my ancestors roll over in their Polish graves, an idea I picked up from my bubbe, who also told me crying would give me wrinkles.

Now I enjoy visiting churches when given the chance, especially in foreign countries where there’s lots of pretty statues to look at and little old ladies light rows and rows of candles (although the Jewish mother in me considers this extremely dangerous. What, can’t God hear without setting the drapes on fire?) But I haven’t sat through an actual service since my best friend and I drank a bottle of Boone’s Farm on Christmas Eve our senior year and snickered through midnight mass (I know, horrible. Please know that my disrespect for religion at that point in my life extended to ALL of them, including my own.)

Of course, El Yenta Man was operating on JST (Jewish Standard Time) so we arrived 15 minutes late and bickering. Forget blending in – we might as well have been waving a giant flag with “Two Loud Late Jews.” We ducked into a pew and I checked it all out – high knotty pine ceilings, giant candlesticks, well-dressed people – it all looked familiar enough.

Until I swung my head forward and saw the 15-foot Jesus. I wasn’t really shocked to him hanging there; I mean, what did I expect, a giant golden calf? But wow, he was big. I couldn’t really take my eyes off him. We Jews aren’t used to having much to look at during services – usually I’m trying to keep my aleph-bet skills fresh by sounding out the Hebrew with my hand covering the alliterations (yes, I still have to peek) and when that gets boring, I study the stained glass windows. Sometimes I eavesdrop, because someone is always carrying on some kind of conversation in synagogue.

But in this church, no one was whispering. I can see why; how can you discuss Mrs. So-and-So’s whacked hat with the feathers or what’s for kiddush lunch when there’s a giant Jesus eyeballing you? At least he wasn’t bloody. My deepest apologies to my Christian readers, but that kind of gives me the willies.

So all was quiet as the bride and groom knelt at the altar. Except for El Yenta Man, who anyone will confirm is an abnormally chatty guy but on this day was affected by a verbal diarrhea so acute he couldn’t help running a commentary on how much he liked the pretty green color of the bridesmaid’s dresses and how gorgeous the bride looked and ooh, there’s Mister Whatsit and he’s just the nicest person…

I tried to explain to him that were weren’t at Mickve Israel and that if he looked around he would realize that no one else was talking, but the woman in front of us turned around and gave us the Stinkeye. So I resorted to the “church pinch,” which seemed appropriate.

“Ow! Why’d you do that? Anyway, did you see that dad from school? I saw him the other day at …”

Finally, I poked him and mouthed “Would you shut up? Jesus is watching!”

El Yenta Man cocked his head and studied the ginormous crucifix for awhile. There was a call and answer portion of the service not unlike a Reform Shabbat, except when everyone knelt down on the small boards attached to the backs of the pews that I guiltily realized were not footrests.

Really, you can’t take us anywhere.

Mazel tov to the happy couple.

7 thoughts on “The Yentas at Church

  1. Oh yeah. We went to a Catholic wedding when our oldest was just 3, and right before the service everyone was standing in the yard of the church, and he comes running to my hysterical crying at the top of his lungs, “Mommy they killed a man and hung him from the ceiling in there.”

    It was just lovely. Needless to say we haven’t been invited back 🙂

  2. OH MY G-D this is exactly what I do when I go to a Catholic Church but I really want to go into the cute little booth that they have and see what it’s like, I have only seen it on TV and I just want to sit there but it looks so cool! I also read the Hebrew on the wall in synagogue when I’m bored or during High Holiday’s listen to the women gossip and watch the fashion show that enters through the door. I remember when I was little my sister was asked to go to church with a friend and my parents said ok. When they were about to kneel the Mother of the friend grabbed my sister and said no you don’t kneel…I thought that was nice to stop her. My Dad was offered a job in Salt Lake City, Utah in the 50’s/60’s and he said I don’t think so. I know what he was thinking…3 little jewish daughters.

  3. Not too long ago I attended a performance of Gounod’s ‘Faust’. Talk about over-sized ‘Yashkas’, I had no idea! As we left the
    opera house all I could think about was mikvah. No offense intended.

  4. Coming late is what made you stand out the most. At my Bar-mitzvah in 1972 and my daughter’s in ’87, the first people at the synagogue were our gentile guests. They stared in amazement as the rest of the guests came in on time or a few minutes late. They confused them the most.

  5. We live in Savannah. You can’t swing a BBQ pork rib without hitting a church. It’s inevitable to find yourself in one at least once – including Mikve Israel.

  6. LOL!!Oh man, I wish I could have invited you to my catholic wedding. An hour long nuptial ceremony, communion, unity candle, the whole shebang. I could have used the comic relief. Took so long that my husband and I kept leaning over to each other from our kneeling positions in front of Father Nelson (now Monsignor Nelson, thank you very much)and whispering in each others ears “are we married yet?”. Father just kept glaring at us and putting his finger in front of his lips. I think he thought that we were whispering something inappropriate. It was 2 days before I fully regained the feeling in my knees.

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