My mother had already decided long before I was born that our family was going to be Jewish whether we liked it or not. This, of course, meant wearing a clip-on tie and sitting beside my father and brother on Saturday mornings while I attempted not to fidget for a good three to four hours. Having been raised in the Hassidic tradition, my brother took well to davening. However, based on the Weinerschnitzel wrappers I found in his car, and the fact that he read Hebrew at a first grade level, I got the sense that my father was going along with my mother’s wishes and having just as hard a time as I was. Being as a five-year-old doesn’t have meditative discipline, I found that the key to getting through Shabbat services was distraction. Luckily, my father had incredibly fat hands. I was never that close in proximity to them during the rest of the week, but on Saturday mornings they were the nearest thing to a cartoon that I was going to get. When my parents were first married, my father was a skinny man, roughly 135 pounds and 5 feet 5 inches tall, no bigger than I am now. He had a love affair with food, but an active lifestyle to match his appetite. With the complacency of matrimony he became tired and stationary, and so grew while his wedding ring remained the same size. The result, in comparison to watching people read Torah, was fascinating. Here were these five overgrown sausages jutting forth from his palm, and wrapped tightly in between his index and pinky finger was a band of metal that seemed to suffocate his knuckle. Either out of distraction or sympathy he let me play with it. I would often work the ring back and forth sliding it off his finger to reveal the clammy white indentation left beneath. A few wiry black hairs stood out in contrast to the grotesque fleshiness. “Why does it look like that?” I would ask. “Because I never take it off,” he replied. “Does it hurt?” He would slide the ring back on,“No.” The same was true of the watch he wore on his wrist. It occurs to me that avoiding Saturday morning services may have been his entire reason for putting me into a youth soccer league and coaching my team later on. It certainly wasn’t his athleticism. Eventually I learned how to carefully pace my bathroom breaks, made friends with other children with whom I would whisper, and the hand became unnecessary. Oh! I also learned how to read Hebrew, Torah trope and lead the entire service. If this Web site is any proof, my mother’s plan worked, and I consider myself to have a strong Jewish identity. As far as prayer goes, between the sitting, standing and bowing, I do have those genuine moments of connection to something greater than myself. But truth be told, I keep the real stuff for when I hit turbulence on airplanes or lose my car keys.