The series of events in this particular story begins with one of my favorite childhood pastimes. Watching television. Don’t worry, I did plenty of outdoorsy, brain-stimulating activities as well as a kid, but I was always quite fond of the TV. My mother tells tales of how I would awake early on Saturday mornings and watch hours upon hours of cartoons, all without having used the bathroom since the night before. (In other words, television gave me super powers.) By my teenage years, my father, who had Ivy League aspirations for his daughters, would pass by the family room where my eyes would be glued to the screen and ask “Harvard Clown College, Allison?”
My addictive TV personality is one of the reasons that we don’t have a television in our home today. (I grew up with five!) I do watch select shows and movies on the computer, though, as it seems to slow me down sufficiently. And only one of our children, so far, possesses the TV gene (i.e. the ability to sit for hours on end, unaware of outside stimuli, natural disasters, and mothers calling you in for dinner.)
One of my favorite shows from my tween and early teenage years was Blossom. The lead character, for which the show was named, was a smart, slightly nerdy, goody goody around my age and was played by Jewish actress, Mayim Bialik. (We had loads in common, except for the fact that NBC had already given her a show, and I was still waiting to be discovered!) I watched Blossom every week for the five years that it was on and then didn’t give Mayim or Blossom much thought until one evening in 2002, seven years after it was off the air.
I was bored that night, randomly surfing online, and I suddenly wondered: “Whatever happened to Mayim Bialik?” So I googled her and saw from an article that she was a student at UCLA and getting more interested in Judaism. “I bet she’ll love Partners in Torah!” I said to myself. (Partners in Torah is a Jewish organization that sets up free telephone learning partnerships for Jews with limited knowledge who want to learn more.) I had just started working there a few months earlier and thought it was the greatest thing in Jewish education since sliced challah!
So I attempted to cold-call Mayim and invite her to join the program, but after googling her some more, I realized that celebrities don’t give out their numbers to the public, lest crazy people, like me, call them up and offer them things like free Torah-telephone-learning-partners!
Disappointed, I moved on and didn’t think about that night until four and a half years later when Mayim called Partners in Torah on her own and was matched with me! When my co-worker told me that they were matching me with Mayim I went through the roof. I continued going through the roof - jumping and randomly shrieking for several weeks after Mayim and I began learning.
“Play it cool,” my husband told me, “if you act crazy, she’ll think you’re crazy.”
“But she’ll call our house,” I told him, “and leave a message. And say, ‘Hi, Allison. It’s Mayim Bialik.’ Can you imagine that we’ll have that message on our voicemail?”
I took my husband’s advice against my better judgement of calling her up and screaming “I LOVE YOU!” and things went swimmingly! Mayim and I have been learning Torah for more than three years now and we’ve become close friends. She has increased her observance in that time in Shabbos and Kosher and is always looking to learn and grow more. She even just gave a nice shout out to yours truly in a recent Jewcy.com article.
Mayim also filmed part of a Jew in the City episode a few months back that will be released soon, more details to follow. And finally, after all my years of lovingly watching television, I will finally make it to the other side of the boob tube! Mayim and I will be appearing on an upcoming episode of What Not To Wear, where she’ll receive their first-ever celebrity make-over. I had gone on in hopes of doing some myth debunking about Orthodox Jews and modesty, but I’m pretty sure they cut all that stuff out. (On a previous episode, one of the hosts kept making fun of the participant’s long frumpy skirts telling her that she looked ” so Orthodox”!)
The last detail in this long-winded story of Divine providence is that the girl who grew up loving television and finally made it on, will not even to see her appearance when it first airs! That’s right, folks, What Not To Wear airs on Friday nights at 9pm (otherwise known as Shabbos), so neither Mayim nor I will be watching then.* (Thank God for digital recording devices, and come to think of it, thank God that I finally found something that transcends my love of television!)
*Please take Mayim’s and my lead and either pre-record the upcoming May 29th show or wait until I put a clip on the site.