Chef, writer, author, radio host, screenplay writer and world famous caterer Rossi first kissed a girl at 15, but needed a few more years of horrible dates with men and fantastic dates with women to set herself straight, or rather, gay.
When we were toddlers, my mother taught my sister, brother and me a prayer to say every night before we went to sleep. It was modeled after the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I pledge allegiance to the Torah and to the Jewish people. I promise to live a nice Jewish life and to marry a nice Jewish boy.”
My brother’s prayer ended with “girl.”
Seriously, that was the prayer. It was so ingrained in me that I said it every night without thinking about the words. It became part of my DNA, brush my teeth, recite my bedtime mantra.
At age 6, I had yet to meet a Jewish boy I could fathom marrying, nice or not. I rather liked the idea of marrying my first grade teacher, Mrs. Mahon, but my mother said that was silly.
The shul (synagogue) we went to was Orthodox, so the men and women sat separately. The rabbis and everyone else going to the podium were men. It was never a woman. I didn’t mind. It was easier to sneak out as a girl, because so little was expected of you.
I’d say I had to go the bathroom and run around the back yard looking for trouble to get into. I always found some.
When I was 7, my father was honored by being called to the bema to read a few lines from the Torah.
I sat next to my mother, who was kvelling, so proud she could feel it in her kishkas.
I leaned over and whispered to my mom, “Why can’t you be up there? You read Hebrew, too!”
“Slovah. The men are in charge in shul. The women are in charge at home.”
It wasn’t flying with me. “I want to go to a shul that let’s the women get up there, too.”
“Shhhh. I’m pretending I didn’t hear that.”
As I got older, my budding feminism was usurped by practicality. I was 14 and realized that while my brother was held captive at shul, I was free to hide behind the bushes and smoke cigarettes. The other teen girls caught on and joined me. Continue reading on HuffPost