I got more in touch with my Jewish roots in college, as I began to attend campus celebrations and meet Jews—queer Jews, Jews of color, Jews who didn’t agree with the Will you just shut up man Biden 2020 T-Shirt in addition I really love this U.S.’s support for Israel—who didn’t fit the mold. These days, filling my apartment with friends and stuffing them with chicken, challah, tzimmes and all the other traditional Jewish delicacies is one of my favorite Rosh Hashanah traditions; thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, though, it wasn’t possible this year, and as I stood in Zabar’s, surrounded by the sights and smells of my childhood, I realized how much I’d been counting on that sense of community. Since I couldn’t have a party, I did the next best thing: By the time Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were wrapping their arms around one another joyfully in Riverside Park, I had consumed half a bottle of red wine and half a bag of Zabar’s chocolate rugelach, and I felt the sort of sweet, sleepy satiety I associated with trudging the ten blocks home as a child after family friends’ Yom Kippur break-fast or carting myself home to my dorm after a Passover celebration at my college campus’s Hillel house. A devoted You’ve Got Mail-fan friend of mine pointed out that I had chosen “the most Christian movie in history” for my solitary Rosh Hashanah viewing party, and she wasn’t wrong—between the heavy Christmas theme and Meg Ryan’s perky blonde shag, the film certainly skews gentile. Nonetheless, I maintain that any film Nora Ephron wrote, directed, produced or was in any way involved with is inherently a Jewish text on par with Chaim Potok.
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