Mayim Bialik on the set of Big Bang Theory. Image Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS
I work on “The Big Bang Theory” and I was required to work on the first two days of Sukkot. We had rehearsal and run-throughs of the script for producers, writers, and CBS; there was no filming involved. Normally, I would have been in synagogue, but this year, I wasn’t and it’s okay. This is my life right now, and here are 3 ways I made it work for me (in addition to making festive meals, drinking kiddush and lighting candles at home.)
1) I hired a car service to drive me to work. Sure, being in a car is halachically different than driving a car myself, but it’s not how i would choose to observe the holiday. That being said, it was relaxing and a nice change of pace to commemorate the holiday this way. And, no, my driver wasn’t Jewish, so I didn’t cause any Jew to break the holiday on my behalf. That would’ve been a bummer so close to Yom Kippur, because I totally just atoned for everything I have pretty much ever done, thought, or fantasized about. Gotta keep the slate clean.
2) I didn’t use my laptop or my phone from work. What a lovely break this was, and it made it really feel like a yontif (holiday)! I normally keep my laptop constantly running at work, and I respond to dozens of emails a day about meetings, publicity, my book being edited, etc., right when they come in. I am a real slave to technology, and for those 2 days, I really embraced the aspects of observance that force us to focus on ourselves, and not on the things we distract ourselves with.
3) I dressed fancy. I grew up with parents who were snazzy dressers, and who encouraged me to have special “shul” clothes. It always made holidays and Shabbat special, and I have carried this pattern into my own adult life, and have passed it on to my sons, who also love dressing fancy for shul, even though they call it dressing like “Maccabeats” (of Yeshiva University fame). Anyway, I dressed in shul clothes for work this year, and it felt really special. I don’t tend to wear sparkly dresses to work in general, or my hair in a French twist with pearl studs. I didn’t wear heels, since we work long days, but I put on proper make-up before the holiday started (it’s customary not to put it on during the holiday) and really felt like I had brought the holiday with me to work by dressing fancy.
One day, I hope to be in a position to set my taping schedule around the 8,000 Jewish holidays that I want to observe according to halacha, but for now, I remain a Jew in exile, a soul yearning for its way home, and a happily employed actress on “The Big Bang Theory.”
I wasn’t sure if I should be so public about me working on the holiday, but I have never claimed to be perfect in observance, and I hope that by sharing ways I make observance fit my life, I can give someone else the support to know that it’s it’s not all or nothing as we learn and grow, that while we are on any particular path, we can still enjoy it even if it’s not moving exactly where – or as fast as – we want it to.