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Published September 29, 2008

by Alan Zweibel

Scene: Two kids talking on a playground.

- How come you weren't in school yesterday?
- Because I'm Jewish.
- So?
- It was Rosh Hashanah.
- What's that?
- New Year's.
- But it's only September 30.
- Well, that's when it came out this year.
- This year?
- Yeah, it's different every year.
- Why?
- I'm not sure.
- Geez...
- But this year it was a lot later than it was last year.
- Really?
- Yeah, last year the second day of Rosh Hashanah fell on...
- Whoa, whoa, whoa -- the second day? Your New Year's is two days?
- Yes.
- Why?
- I'm not sure.
- Geez...
- But the other night when the holiday started...
- At midnight...
- At 7:38.
- 7:38?
- Yes. Jewish holidays begin when the sun goes down.
- Why?
- I'm not sure. ..
- Geez...
- But as soon as the sun set, our New Year immediately kicked in.
- So it's already 2009 for you?
- No.
- But you just said...
- It's 5769.
- 5769?
- Yeah.
- Where'd that number come from?
- The way I understand it, we were here for close to 4,000 years before you guys came along.
- Really?
- Yep -- and that's when you started counting.
- And you didn't start over from zero?
- No reason to. We were on a roll so we just kept going.
- Makes sense.
- Thank you.
- So what do you do on December 31st?
- Celebrate New Year's Eve.
- But you just had two New Year's Eves...
- That's the beauty of Judaism. You get three New Year's Eves, eight days of Hanukah, plus a Christmas vacation even though it's not our holiday.
- Hardly seems fair to the rest of us.
- Hey, that's why we're called the Chosen People.
- I'll say.


"Clothing Optional ," a collection of Alan's short stories and essays, was just published by Random House.

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