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In Which Our Narrator Supposes His Toeses Are Roses
johnrossbowie
I read Jewish.

I don’t mean I read Hebrew – I don’t - but in casting director terms, I ‘read’ Jewish. People look at me and read – sometimes out loud – “that guy’s Jewish.” And if I ask them why, they hem and haw and don’t make eye contact, except for my friend Ethan who said, bluntly, “Your schnozz.” A candor which I appreciated. I’m actually not, but I often play one on TV – the greatest example being when I booked a role named Bob Chen, and then just before shooting they changed it to Bob Lipshitz. My wife (Blonde, from Boston) IS Jewish, and therefore my kids are, but long time readers of this blog (Hi, mom!) will know that I’m of Scots-Irish descent and a lapsed Episcopalian. Which should not stop me from playing Moses, right?

The offer came in months ago – would I like to play Moses for my daughter’s preschools Matzah Factory, a kind of pre-Passover fest where the kids make unleavened bread. One of the parents asked me as I dropped my little one off, and I hemmed and hawed. “You guys know my dirty little secret, right?” They didn’t. I explained. After much consideration, they said “Well, Charlton Heston was a gentile.” Point taken. I was in.

So Wednesday, I dropped off the eldest and pulled together my costume. A beard from a Hollywood Costume Shop, and an old robe type thing from a costume of … well, let’s call him another Biblical figure, starts with a J, oh, fine, if you must pry, I played “Jesus as an American Idol judge” in a sketch show about 8 years ago and still had that costume. Yay hoarding!

There are 4 classes at the preschool. One by one, I took them through a papier-mache Red Sea and into the Matzah Factory, where they got all sticky and messy rolling around with dough. Some kids laughed, other kids cried (“I HATE THAT BEARD!”) and, of course, plenty of kids screamed “YOU’RE NOT REALLY MOSES!” My daughter thought it was awesome and hysterically funny, and everybody in her class was telling her “YOUR DADDY IS MOSES.”

But as we were standing on the shore of the Red Sea, a couple of the kids were being kids and surged ahead, and the teachers said – almost in a chorus – “Get behind Moses. Moses is the leader of the Jewish People!”

Jesus. Wow. Now, I wasn’t struck by the religiosity of that statement, as that’s just too much to deal with. It’s a very weird time to be Jewish in the world right now, and I’m not gonna discuss the merits of a two state solution with a 3 year old. But that leader thing got under my skin, in a good way. It didn’t make me drunk with power, it was far simpler than that. It just put me in the grand progression of parents doing stuff at their kids school. As my father was a chaperone on my school’s Philadelphia trip – as my mother accompanied me to look at colleges in Upstate New York – so shall I lead the little Israelites across a sea of paper, wheat paste and bright scarlet poster paint.

And, of course, I created a great story for my in-laws. Who have been nothing but cool about their daughter marrying a goy, but you know what? A picture of me as Moses couldn’t hurt.


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