MY BOYFRIEND'S FIRST TIME AT THE SYNAGOGUE, OR: HOW MY BOYFRIEND BECAME THE POSTER CHILD FOR JUDAISM

  1. I'm not a very religious person. If I had to check off a box, I'd define my religious beliefs as Loosely Culturally Jewish With An Emphasis on Matzo Balls.
  2. My dad is a bit more religious, and recently served a term as a board member at our synagogue.
  3. My boyfriend grew up Unitarian, but is an atheist.
  4. My dad told me and my boyfriend about the upcoming planting of a vegetable garden at the synagogue. It was for community service, the eventual produce would be donated to the hungry. This would be a fun non-religious way for my boyfriend to come to the temple for the first time.
  5. On the day, as we waited by the empty beds of soil for the planting event to begin, my father again noted that this was just a secular community service event, and thanked us for coming.
  6. Then the rabbi showed up.
  7. "This is the most religious way you can be spending your Saturday morning," he said, moving himself with the weight of his words. "There is NOTHING you can do to get closer to God than planting vegetables for the underprivileged."
  8. My dad, boyfriend, and I laughed quietly about the irony of it all, and got to work gardening.
  9. The next week, my boyfriend appeared as the cover photograph on the synagogue's newsletter.
  10. The photo still gets air time in the digital rotation of photos in the synagogue lobby.