I have a friend who wants to convert to Judaism.

I arrange for her to meet me at shul Friday night.

"Can I wear pants?" she asks.


"Can I drive?"


"Do I have to cover my arms?"


"Do I have to sit in the girls secttion?"


She’s only been in an Orthodox shul once before. That was with me many years ago. We were just kids.

She calls me at 4:25 p.m. She’s a mile away from the shul. She’s driving.

"I’ll see you there!" I say.

I walk 30 minutes to shul. She’s nowhere in sight.

I find out after Shabbos that she looked in and saw only men. She figured the women’s section was on the other side of the mehitza but she didn’t want to walk past all the men. She looked in the window but couldn’t see me. She didn’t know that the door to the women’s section was around the back.

Three times, she walked past the shul.

Then her anxiety got the best of her and she drove home.

This has happened to me several times before with shiksas. They get all freaked out about stepping into a shul.

They also get all freaked out when I ask them to sleep in this coffin I keep in the back of the hovel.

8:50 a.m. The speaker says the minyan never forces anyone to do anything. I breathe a big sigh of relief. This is my home!

Joey Kurtzman does not come to shul unprepared. He had his wallet, his cell phone, a $300 designer towel to wipe off the sweat (it pours off him whenever he gets close to Judaism) and a small Artscroll siddur.

He keeps popping out to smoke cigarettes and I have to fight to save his seat.

"Take off your yarmulke," he was told outside the Persian Chabad shul on Pico Blvd while he was sucking on his cancer stick.

"It’s a matter of etiquette?" asks Joey.

The couple smiles.

"Is there anything wrong with carrying a towel around?" asks Joey.

"Well, there’s an eruv," says the man.

"People won’t look askance?" asks Joey.

"It’s not the done thing to carry a towel around any day of the week," says the man.

After lunch, we’re looking all around the shul for Joey’s towel. We finally find it.

He bought it with his winnings from counting cards in Vegas.

We walk off. Joey says he’s left his siddur behind. "Ahh, it’s a donation," he says.

"No, we’ll find it."

We look all around the shul and can’t find it.

Under his breath, Joey accuses the minyan of theft. Then I see that the siddur is in his pocket.


This time he doesn’t come in jeans. He wears decent daks and a decent shirt. But he crosses his legs when he davens and that looks so goyisha.

We’re walking home around 2 p.m. He pops into the gas station to buy a pack of smokes.

"Should I not smoke around you?" he asks.

"No, go ahead and smoke. It makes me look tolerant. But don’t smoke here. Not in front of the shul we just davened at."

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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