April 10, 2015
Below you will find a very long URL leading to a conversation between musician/actor Jack Black and talk show host Conan O'Brien. The snippet was gleaned from a broadcast earlier this week.
Although he professes to be an atheist, Jack Black and his wife were recently looking to enroll their 5-year-old in a Hebrew school for Kindergarten (yes, they are Jewish). In attempting to make a good impression during the interview, he played up their commitment to Jewish practice in the home, speaking of using his grandfather's Haggadah for their seder, and singing a snippet of Chad Gadya. Mr. Black spoke of feeling the judging eyes of other parents waiting to enroll their children in the Hebrew school. Mr. Black is a highly talented comedian, and the incident is presented in an amusing manner, yet it certainly might be offensive to some. I suggest suspending judgment.
In reflecting on the story, I see the possibility of spiritual transformation for Mr. Black and his family, as well as for all of us who fall into the habit not living our Judaism from the heart.
Next month comes the holiday of Shavuot when we read the well-known line from Exodus 24:7, "na'aseh v'nishma", "We will do and we will learn". The traditional interpretation suggests that doing comes first, followed by an understanding of the value and meaning of the practice, followed by a spiritual integration.
I was recently told a moving story by a Jewish grandmother who had not practiced Judaism in her adult life nor passed the practice on the her children. Her 12-year-old granddaughter had become interested in Judaism during an out-of-state cousin's bat mitzah. The granddaughter, on her own, found a synagogue and asked her mother and grandmother to attend with her as she studied for her own bat mitzvah. They did, for her sake, but in the process found themselves being spiritually moved and opened by their attendance at services. The granddaughter had her bat mitzvah, the mother has learned to read Torah, and the grandmother is involved in a women's spirituality group.
Watch out Mr. Black! You, too, may be transformed.