Last night Mrs. Yid and I were hanging out with my brother Deacon Yid and his girlfriend, Mini. Mini is from the suburbs and her family seems to practice a fairly secular form of Protestantism. Like Deacon, she tends to lean towards the atheist side of things. She's come to a few of our holidays and seems to be ok with things (she's a little hard to read). At least she has less of a chip on her shoulder than Deacon, who made a big point of telling her at our seder, "You don't have to eat anything you don't want to, or read anything that you don't want to" (he always refuses to read or recite anything that mentions God).
Anyway, they were around, and we mentioned that we were going to be heading off to Havdalah at Abraham and Sarah's house. Interestingly enough, they said they were game to check it out. I had some hopes that they would find it kind of cool, but things didn't pan out quite as I had planned... we left kind of late, the house was a little crowded, Deacon seemed a little uncomfortable with people drinking, and unfortunately I hadn't mentioned to the rabbi ahead of time that they were coming or reminded him of my brother's extreme lack of knowledge/interest/comfort level with Jewish stuff. So we hung out for a while and then eventually did Havdalah, but it's hard to say whether they were really enjoying themselves. They were also pretty tired (Deacon keeps crazy hours and frequently doesn't go to bed until 4 or 6 in the morning) so who knows how they were doing by the end of things.
I feel like part of the reason Deacon doesn't really connect with Jewish stuff is because, 1- there's a longstanding lack of knowledge or connection due to our nonexistent Jewish education, and 2- the lasting ideal family images he has were largely created by popular media he saw as a kid and young adult--the overwhelming majority being secular and/or Christian. So for instance, if you ask him about his ideal family holiday, he thinks of a George Rockwell family sitting around a Christmas tree drinking cocao and singing Christmas carols-- though, to be fair, he is also into Hanukkah and asked for help getting a menorah and the right blessings when he was away at college. He certainly isn't into Christmas as a religious holiday, but I think he's attracted by the pageantry and imagery of it as compared to, say, Hanukkah. I don't think my brother necessarily "should" be doing Jewish stuff like I am but I do think popular media has played a big role in what kind of holidays and rituals he is or isn't interested or inspired by.
Honestly, I wish this hadn't been their first introduction to havdalah. If ritual or fanciness is your thing, you're not going to get a lot out of our havdalah. If it's deep spiritual insight, well there wasn't really any of that, either. It was really just some friends hanging out, talking shop about the shul, cracking jokes, and then doing the quick candle-spice-wine dip. Not all that impressive for your first time. I really wish they had come to the last one we had at our house, where they might have felt a little more comfortable. I'll have to check with Deacon in the next few days and see what he thought of it.
Still, it was cool of them to check it out, and maybe they'll come the next time we host Havdalah. We can always hope.
Hey, I got my brother to participate in a Jewish ritual...does this make me and Mrs. Yid kiruv workers now?