The Evil Eye
There are many reasons why the Jewish religion and culture intrigues me so, but I have no idea what the genesis (no pun intended) of this little obsession was. Was it the Sunday School teacher who told us that one day, our parents might have a talk with us about hanging out with Jews? The dozens of kids in elementary school bringing matzah and peanut butter for lunch right around Easter? The token "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel" song at the yearly Holiday Concert, followed by the severely misguided jealousy over the Jewish kids' getting presents for eight nights a year?
While all those things may have built up the interest over the years, none of them compares to the current source of my predilection toward the Classic Rock of religions.
The Evil Eye.
Seriously, this has got to be the number one selling point for anyone out there trying to convert people to Judaism (which I realize they don't really try to do, which is another reason why it's a cool religion in my book). I mean, the Evil freaking Eye, for God's sake. It's not just an expression. It's an actual thing. There are rules about it, methods of doing it, and the best part, a whole selection of devices to thwart it. Some of them are even fashionable! You can decorate your house with Evil Eye deflectors, wear them as jewelry, hang them on your rear-view mirror. The crucifix just cannot approach this kind of cachet. Plus, unless you believe in the Bram Stoker/Joss Whedon vampire mythos, it doesn't serve much of a practical purpose. But those Evil Eye thingies -- they're working 24 hours a day to keep you safe from potentially fatal sideways glances! That cashier at the Gelson's bakery who you could have sworn gave you a wicked smile after wishing your family good health? Fuck her! Your Evil Eye ring sucked up all her bad energy and then some. Hell, she can bust out a whole army of malevolent yentas to fire their wrath at you, but it'll be a big ol' waste of time.
Bar mitzvah money and 5,000 years of proud heritage are cool and all. But getting to wear a ring or a necklace that can fend off those who would seek to kill you with their thoughts? In the words of Homer Simpson, now that's religion.