Monday, April 21, 2008

My First Passover

I love being able to look back at when I met certain people who would eventually become important to me. You never know when somebody is going to dance into your life (and being a theatrical kinda girl, people really DO literally dance into my life.) Like my friend Cheyenne...who I met while he was a chorus boy in Thoroughly Modern Millie and was tapdancing his heart out. And like my friend Laura...who was a dance major in college.

When I first started my job with a certain major theatre company two years ago (the place that would eventually lay me off, something I am yet to really recover from...), I met a pretty girl from the south. She was sitting at the desk across from me.

When I took my first lunchbreak, I returned and said, "It is LOVELY out there!" A few hours later, that pretty Southern girl said, "I guess I am not used to your sense of humor yet...when you came in and said it was lovely out, I looked out the window and thought, 'It doesn't LOOK very lovely out! It looks rather gloomy!'"

(Well, get used to New York sarcasm!)

This is the same girl who commented, "I love writing out envelopes to the theatres Neil Simon...the Richard Rodgers...the August Wilson...I feel like I am writing love letters to all these men...and Richard Rodgers is my favorite, because I love imagining the type of things he came back to me!"

How could I not want to be great friends with somebody like that?

That day, a coworker also told Laura that she was a lot like Charlotte from Sex and the which Laura replied, "A lot of people tell me that, and they say it before they even know about how I converted!!!"

Yes, Laura was in the process of converting to Judaism.

Sometimes you just click with somebody, and Laura and I clicked from day one. In fact, I called her hysterically crying from the street the day I got laid-off. (By the time my boss was done laying me off, my coworkers had all gone home.) I still have the, "Everything is going to be okay!!!" text message she sent me that night when I was wandering through Times Square, in the rain, lugging all the junk from my desk, singing "On My Own". (I had seen Les Miserables that night.)

Despite her pretty, dainty demeanor (complete with a pink sweater and a strand of pearls), Laura is one of the toughest people I know. She picked-up and moved away from South Carolina and her family to make it in the big city, all by herself. She began to nanny for a Jewish family, and eventually decided that she was going to convert to Judiasm.

I went to my first Passover Seder on Saturday, which was hosted by Laura. There were nine people around that table, all of whom were practicing Christians. (I was the sole Catholic. I was also the sole vegetarian, which automatically makes me a freak in many people's eyes...)

I think my only knowledge of Passover is what I have picked-up from watching The Ten Commandments on television every year. (I love that movie! I often say that I am very glad the Passover and Easter come but once a year, because if they came more frequently than that, I would probably do nothing but eat mini-Cadbury eggs and watch The Ten Commandments all year long.)

The Seder was long...over four hours...but I wasn't bored at all! I was completely captivated! Not in an "I would like to convert so I can really be a part of this" captivated, but in a "Wow! There is a lot out there that I don't know about, and I CAN be a part of it while not changing my beliefs."

This experience made me realize that I would love to learn more about other cultures and customs. I feel like I live in a slight bubble, my little Italian-American Roman Catholic world. A few months ago, my cousin's baby girl was baptised in a Greek Orthodox ceremony. I found that ceremony fascinating as well.

There are so many different kinds of peoples and beliefs and traditions out there!!! What a beautiful melting pot we live in, where we can believe and practice what we wish and share with one another.

I am so grateful to have friends and relatives of different backgrounds, reminding me that we're all the same when it comes to the things that really matters...and I am especially lucky to have my brave, converting, southern friend Laura!

Diana Rissetto