For those who don’t watch the show Orange Is The New Black, you probably have no idea who Cindy Hayes is. For those of you who do, you know exactly where I’m going with this post (please note that this includes a “spoiler” discussion of the Season 3 episode “Trust No Bitch”, however it is somewhat of a minor story line).
For those not watching the show, here’s the setup. The prison has been taken over by a private company and the food the new ownership provides is beyond disgusting. As a result, some of the women decide to use the “kosher loophole” to get better food. This naturally spirals out of control, with over 1/3 of the inmates stating that they’re Jewish in order to get the kosher meal.
Caputo brings in a Rabbi to test those who are claiming to be Jewish and the results are predictably humorous. Cindy Hayes decides to try and trick the Rabbi by describing her upbringing using references to Yentl and Annie Hall.
The Rabbi’s response is 100% complete awesomeness:
“Miss Hayes, while I am heartened that you appreciate the works of Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand, I think you’ve confused cultural Judaism with committed Jewish belief. Also, I hear Mandy Patinkin can be difficult to work with.”
After the visit, it comes to light that only one person passed the tests – the nun, Sister Jane Ingalls. Not surprising, since Catholicism includes the teachings of the Old Testament. Undeterred, Cindy continues her efforts to convince the Rabbi she wants to convert. She studies, she learns and ultimately comes to the realization that being Jewish is about much more than just kosher food.
She once again meets with the Rabbi who asks her why she really wants to convert. Her description of what it means to be a Jew is quite possibly the most beautiful, eloquent description I’ve ever heard.
“Honestly, I think I found my people. I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell. And if I was good, I’d go to heaven. And if I’d ask Jesus, he’d forgive me and that was that. And here y’all are saying there ain’t no hell. Ain’t sure about heaven. And if you do something wrong, you got to figure it out yourself. And as far as God’s concerned, it’s your job to keep asking questions and to keep learning and to keep arguing. It’s like a verb. It’s like … you do God. And that’s a lot of work, but I think I’m in, as least as far as I can see it.”
Season 3 may have been a bit uneven and the show may be spiraling in the same way that Weeds did around this time, but that speech will always have a place in my heart no matter how much the show goes off the rails.