R is functionally the town rabbi. She has a pulpit at the tiny local synagogue (“little shul in the big woods,” we say), works with a nearby university Jewish student group, and teaches Hebrew. If she could do ritual slaughtering, we’d be set, mostly because I’d have fresher, more local options and would no longer have to drive the kosher meat I transform into gorgeous Shabbat meals in from over an hour away. But I get ahead of myself.
Our home in C-town is an apartment located in one of that university’s dorms, with loud, smelly underclassman boys just through the walls and over our heads. We keep almost no belongings there—a shelf with a few of R’s mishnayot, a few extra shirts, toothbrushes, and the inflatable mattress we sleep on, on the floor. Oh, and shelves full of fleishik pots, pans and dishes. It looks like a mission. It is.
We started making jokes about being members of lesbian Chabad when R came home with a copy of The Rebbe’s Army. “I think it has some really good pointers,” she’d shrugged. …Okay.
Plus, the jokes seemed to make themselves: we’re the town Jews. Our home is where you go for a Shabbat dinner that I cook, counting guests in multiples of ten. R and I—neither of us particularly blessed in the voice department—teach zmirot at the end of meals. We clean up the synagogue and light the yiskor board. We kasher the kitchen for Passover and teach classes and explain jokes and…
One day, my hand wrist-deep in a chicken, I looked over at R, who was reading me aloud two sources for her Talmud class that night.
“Shit. That lesbian Chabad joke?”
“Yeah,” she replied.
“Not so much a joke anymore.”
I’m going to bring you more stories of the adventures of two incredibly Jewy fake Chabadnikot in upcoming posts. Until then…well, time to prepare for Shabbat.