The Holocaust, the sex appeal of Jewish broads and punk rock. All subjects I've talked about before, but never in the same conversation.
Until I spoke with Patrick A.
As the force behind Punk Torah
, A. gives "weekly Torah readings from a punk rock perspective" via online videos
And with the band CAN!!CAN
, A. writes and performs punk/metal from a Jewish perspective, albeit with an outlook that's probably different from any other one you've encountered.
CAN!!CAN plays 9 p.m., Aug. 13 at Derby City Espresso
(331 E. Market St.). Tickets are $5.
The Punk Torah event is 7:15 p.m., Aug. 14 at Adath Jeshurun Synagogue
(2401 Woodbourne Ave.), with a Shabbat Service and pizza dinner at 5:45 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, $18 per couple and free for students. Purchase them ahead of time by calling the synagogue's office at 502-458-5359.
A reactionary Jew
A., who was raised in an evangelical Christian family, converted to Judaism in his early 20s.
While he says he was always an ethical monotheist he woke up one morning with "this warm sort of glow in the pit of my stomach," he said. "I had this overwhelming urge to thank God for my life."
"I live in a world full of atheist alcoholic punk rockers, so to have a feeling like that the second that I woke up in the morning was sort of 'Oh, holy cow, this is not me at all.'"
"It was a very transformative moment. It was the moment when I realized my life wasn't about me anymore. From that point forward I've been living my life differently."
As for his denomination, A. describes himself as a reactionary Jew, a term he coined.
"I feel like I'm personally reacting against this boring outlook within Judaism and trying to make Judaism more exciting, because to me the idea that there is one God that we're responsible to and we are a partner with this supreme creator in making the world a better place is the most revolutionary, exciting idea that's ever happened to humanity. And why Jew's can't wrap their brains around that boggles me."
Jews' reactions to converts
"In the Jewish world we kind of have this love-hate relationship with converts," A. said. "No one in the Bible was ever born Jewish, they all converted. Our history depends on dynamic energy from people who convert."
But A. believes there needs to be more acceptance of converts.
"If my name was Haim Lowenstein, I could be eating a ham sandwich on Friday night while getting [oral sex] from a protestant and that would make me more Jewish than having the name Patrick and wearing a covering on my head every day. That's an extremely frustrating thing to have to deal with. And it's actually one of the biggest reasons why people choose not to convert to Judaism."
A., however, is optimistic that mindset will change in the next 100 years and family-raised Jews will be more excepting of "Jews of the mind and heart" who had to convert.
Punk's reactions to his religion
And how have his CAN!!CAN bandmates respond to their singer and songwriter's evolving religious fervor?
"[They saw that] I was just incorporating this into my life and I'm still the same person that I was before, just with a couple of different habits," A. said.
"My drummer Josh said that he hasn't met a Jewish guy that he didn't like and a Jewish girl that he didn't want to nail. He's really excited about that."
A Louisvillian's reaction to Punk Torah
Louisville resident and Consuming Louisville's publisher Michelle Jones helped arrange A.'s local gigs after encountering his work online.
"When I first found Punk Torah two things really struck me. First that here was a young man on whom the label 'religious' wouldn't be stuck at first glance but there he was being exceptionally passionate about his faith and how it fits into the life he wants to live," Jones said.
"Second he's exceptionally insightful and finds great ways to make the weekly Torah portion accessible for folks whom more traditional and less modern interpretations don't cut it. In essence he helps make the Torah even more applicable to those of us who live our lives with punk sensibilities and web 2.0 habits."
For more information: While the winning scallop dish wasn't kosher, "'Top Chef' Louisville style" did feature imaginative cocktails and small-plate dishes.
(Photo: Courtesy of Patrick A.