…Suddenly there came a furious knocking at my front door. Outside stood an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, with a big black hat, a long black beard, and a red canister of gasoline in his hand. Two young yeshiva students were at his side, one holding a clipboard, the other holding a baseball bat. I opened the door.“Shalom Auslander?” the rabbi asked.
“Shalom Auslander, the Jew?”
“What an odd question,” I said.
“Yes or no,” he said.
The yeshiva student with the clipboard checked something off on his sheet of paper, and the rabbi handed me a small wooden box.
“It is my duty to inform you,” he said, “that you are no longer Jewish.”
“Did my mother send you?” I asked.
The rabbi shook his head, and explained that he was a representative of the committee assigned by the Knesset to determine who was and wasn’t a Jew.
“I thought that was just about conversions,” I said.
“It started out that way,” the rabbi replied. “But if you’re going to judge the validity of people’s conversions, you might as well judge the validity of their observance, their beliefs, their behavior.” His eyes narrowed at me. “Even their jokes.”
“You mean that one about the High Holy Days?”
“Bingo,” said the rabbi. “We did not appreciate that. The question of who is and who isn’t a Jew is one of the most critical of our time.”
“That and, say, hunger,” I said.
“Don’t judge me,” said the rabbi.
I apologized and shook the box.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Your foreskin.”… [Continue Reading]