Getting Serious

Our parents didn’t seem to care about differences in religion. So why was I suddenly looking for challahs on a Friday afternoon?
  1. Who doesn’t love a bris? Or so I was thinking a couple of years ago, when I brought along my non-Jewish girlfriend to the apartment of some friends to watch their newborn son go under the knife. What better way to introduce Danielle to the transcendent appeal of Judaism?

    Imagine the scene: It’s a sunny November morning, and about 40 people are gathered in the living room of a classic six in Park Slope, Brooklyn. At center stage we have our infant, lying unsuspectingly on a pillow in the lap of his maternal grandfather. The mohel leans down, Mogen clamp in hand, and the room falls silent. The father looks understandably tense. The mother is starting to weep.

    I look over at Danielle expecting to see her caught up in the drama, maybe even tearing up a bit herself. She isn’t even watching! I tap her on the shoulder and she turns toward me, horrified. “This is barbaric,” she mutters.

    The baby begins wailing, the mohel makes kiddush, and the crowd starts singing “Siman Tov U’mazel T...

The complete text of “Getting Serious” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on

Originally published in Tablet, February 2005

Great reading. Anywhere, any time

Subscribe to Byliner to finish this and thousands of other riveting stories for just $5.99 a month. Get started now with a 14 day FREE trial.

Join Today

Already a member? Sign in