Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Jewish (page 2 of 8)

The Wealthiest Man in Town

shtetl
(Mayer Kirshenblatt’s “Purim Play: The Krakow Wedding”)

(translated from the Yiddish by Neil Kramer — ok, not really)

The wealthiest man in town went to the village Rabbi and said, “All my life, I worked hard. I have become rich and successful. But now everyone in town feels jealous of me, and I feel like a stranger in my own village.  What should I do?”

The Rabbi pondered this question, like Rabbis tend to do, and then replied, “You need to convince the others, that despite your great wealth, you are the the same as they are, a man of flesh and blood, a man who laughs and cries.”

The wealthiest man in town nodded, understanding the Rabbi’s wisdom.

So, on Shabbos, the wealthiest man in town went to the home of the poorest family in the village and shared their humble Sabbath dinner.  He ate their radishes and bread.  He shared stories, and he laughed and he cried, and after the meal, he announced, “I am just like you,” and then he called his horse and carriage to take him back to his palatial  home on the hill.

The next day, the wealthiest man in town returned to the Rabbi and said the plan was as unsuccessful as getting a donkey to carry a bucket of water with his teeth.  The minute he returned to his home on the hill, everyone hated him again.  Not one person in town believed that he was “just like them.”

The Rabbi stroked his beard and thought and thought, analyzing the situation.  Finallly, he spoke.  “I think our villagers are a insecure bunch with self-esteem issues,” he said.  “Rather than telling others that you are “just like them,” which doesn’t impress them, since they don’t think very highly of themselves anyway, it is better if you say “You are just like me,” so that they will feel ennobled and inspired that you — the wealthiest man in town — see them as equals.

So, that Shabbos, the wealthiest man in town invited as many villagers as could fit into his dining room and offered them a grand feast of duck and beef and exotic vegetables, all brought in from Prague, served on his best Polish dishware.  After the meal, he toasted the group with a glass of wine and said, “You are just like me,” and then the villagers returned home, on foot, down the hill, along the dusty, rocky road, their faces souring like Kosher pickles with each step closer to their dingy village.

The next morning, the Rabbi was already stroking his beard when the wealthiest man in town arrived at the shul.   The Rabbi had already heard the not-so-favorable gossip about his grand announcement of, “You are just like me,” which was as pleasing to the town as the off-key singing voice of the butcher’s wife, who could sometimes be heard warbling Yiddish lullabies as she chased the chickens in the yard before they were killed.

The wealthiest man in town was desperate, and Rabbi was determined to find the answer.  “This appears to be a problem that even King Solomon would struggle with in solving.” he said as he opened the Talmud.  “The villagers were offended when you said, “I am just like you.”  And they were insulted when you said, “You are just like me.”  Perhaps the only solution is NOT to make any announcements at all.  True?”

The wealthiest man in town nodded, and left the rabbi, but in all honesty, he was dumbfounded by the Rabbi’s vague wisdom, but since he was the only Rabbi in town, the wealthiest man in town was stuck with his advice, and figured he better follow it.

So, on Shabbos, the wealthiest man in town suggested that the entire village throw a dinner in the center of town, with each family bringing a dish of their choice.  It was a beautiful sunset and as the darkness covered the sky like a warm blanket, the stars opened their eyes and flickered like candles.   The villagers dined on the large selection of food, from simple beans to expensive fish, which was all spread on one enormous table covered in a pearl white cloth, and the wealthiest man in town ate and drank and danced and flirted and prayed with all of the others until the next morning, and never once did he say, “I am like you” or “You are like me,” and for the first time in years, he felt like he was part of the village, and they accepted him.

Matzoh Brei

matzoh

During Passover, you’re supposed to eat matzoh, symbolizing how the Israelites ran out of Egypt so quickly, they didn’t have time to leaven the bread.

The best Passover meal is not during the seder, but the next morning.  Matzoh brei is incredibly easy to make.  It is a cross between French Toast made with matzoh and an omelete.

I love matzoh brei.  If, for example, a beautiful woman invited me up to her apartment this week, and we made passionate love all night in her bedroom, I would wake up early the next morning to make her some Passover matzoh brei for breakfast, and after taking one bite, she would no doubt be praising the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Of course, since she praised the Lord several times last night in bed, when I went under the covers, maybe SHE should wake up early and make me the matzoh brei!

(Gimme a break!  Like the rest of you don’t promote yourselves all the time on your dumb blogs?  —  I wrote a book!  I went to a conference!  I met Dooce!   Blah Blah Blah.  — It’s time for me to promote myself!)

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Matzoh Brei
(via Melissa Clark)

Time: 20 minutes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup diced onions
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 boards(about 2 ounces) matzoh, broken into pieces
5 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. In a skillet over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms and raise the heat to medium-high. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.
3. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the matzoh and cook, tossing to coat the matzoh in butter, for 2 minutes.
4. Pour the eggs into the pan and season them generously with salt and pepper. Cook, scrambling the mixture, until the eggs are set, about 2 to 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 2

Aligning the Planets

I was returning from having a cup of coffee at the McDonald’s across the street when I encountered a white-haired elderly man who lived in my apartment building.  I didn’t remember his name, but I knew him from my youth as the red-haired tenant with ultra-straight posture who would chase the kids from playing Frisbee on the front grassy area.

“You’re ruining the grass,” he would shout.  “Play in the back where you are supposed to!” referring to the concrete slab between the two apartment buildings that created the co-op, a fenced-in area with ground so hard and child-unfriendly that you would scrap your knees if you fell, especially on the broken glass left over from the older kids previous night’s contraband smashed beer bottles.

But time changes, and this tenant now seemed frail and friendly.  Most of the kids playing in the grass had grown up and moved on.  Only I had unceremoniously returned again as an adult.

“You’re Kramer’s son?” he asked.

“Yes.”

The men from my father’s generation, the first group of tenants in this apartment building, always spoke of the offspring in relation to the patriarch.  I am always “Kramer’s son.”  I am never the “real” Kramer.

“We need you,” he said.  “We need a tenth person for a minyan.”

A minyan in Judaism refers to the quorum required for certain religious obligations, such as getting together for a prayer service. The traditional minyan for most cases consists of ten men, which continues to be the position with Orthodox Judaism.   However, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism accept women in the minyan.  In this case, I assumed this traditional, old-school guy was looking for a tenth MAN.  Some of the older guys prayed together on Friday night in one of the apartments, instead of schlepping to the temple all the way on Main Street.  In order to make this kosher,  they needed ten men.  And tonight, they were one short.

I was about to opt out, because I had hoped to watch an episode of “Flight of the Conchords” on Tivo, but I didn’t speak up fast enough.

“We’re meeting in Apartment 5C.  They’re sitting shiva.”

The mention of the shiva changed everything, and made me feel guilty about saying no.  In Judaism, shiva is the week-long period of grief and mourning for the seven first-degree relatives: father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, and spouse. (Grandparents and grandchildren are not included).  As most regular activity is interrupted, the process of following the shiva ritual is referred to as “sitting shiva.”  Shiva is a part of the customs for bereavement in Judaism.

The group was not only meeting for the Sabbath, but was praying in the apartment of someone bereaved.

I was told to arrive at Apartment 5C at 6PM, and I did.  I entered a crowded living room, a room too small for all ten of us — nine gray-haired, sloppily-dressed men in yarmulkes, and me.   We all looked like we wanted to be elsewhere, but were obligated by religious law to gather.  I recognized the faces of the men, but only knew one of them well, Mr. Weiner, the father of my childhood friend, Barry.

Someone’s husband had died earlier that week.  This was his home.  The widow was in the bedroom.  You could hear her crying.   The grieving son and grand-daughter sat by the piano in the living room, apart from the men. They were not particularly friendly towards us, as if we were a roaming band of gypsies invading their home.    They were probably having this ceremony for the “sake of their mother.”  No one talked, partly because of the solemn occasion, but mostly because the son and grand-daughter seemed like rude assholes.  Couldn’t they at least say hello or “thank you for being with us when you could be home watching “Flight of the Conchords?”

I wasn’t sure who was crying in the bedroom.  I don’t ever remember being in Apartment 5C ever before, although it pretty much looked like every other apartment in the building.    Who was it who died?  Do I know him?  If my mother was here, she would know.   She gossips with everyone in the elevator.  I usually leave the building through the side door so I don’t have to interact with anyone, so I miss all the inside info.

The apartment was not that much different than ours.  There was a couch that once had plastic on it to keep it fresh-looking, and a fake Chagall print on the wall, something the Torah demands of every Jewish household in Queens.

The grand-daughter sat in a director’s chair by the terrace window.  She was in her early twenties.  She looked bored and was staring into space as if she was watching some imaginary movie on her bigscreen TV.  I thought she was dressed inappropriately for the occasion, in a tight T-shirt with cleavage.

“Do you have any prayer books?” asked Mr. Weiner.

The son reached for a pile of black hard-covered books sitting on the piano bench and passed it the grand-daughter.  She dropped one of the books, and bent down to retrieve it.

“My God,” I thought, as I looked down the top of her shirt.  She had the most round and perfect breasts I had ever seen.  I felt like I could spend my life between them.  I was not the only one mesmerized by the sight.  All the men were sitting straighter and looking more youthful, as if they had just had their first true religious experience of the evening.   I think a few of them had the first hard-ons they have had since turning seventy years old.

The grand-daughters amazingly young and full breasts seemed to energize the room, and became the ice-breaker that was needed for the men to start talking with each other.  It was now 6:15 and we were still waiting for some local rabbi, who was going to lead the special service in honor of the deceased.

“Maybe he’s having trouble finding parking in this neighborhood.” said the son, a psychotherapist in New Jersey.  You could tell that he was a snob who looked down on “the old neighborhood” and thought it was over-crowded and unsafe.  “I certainly didn’t want to leave my Lexus in front of McDonalds!”

One of the other men spoke up, a skinny man with pants that were too short.

“Is this Rabbi Greenstein that’s coming here tonight?” he asked.

The son nodded.

“That’s the problem.  Rabbi Greenstein is ALWAYS telling everyone to show up a half hour early so he doesn’t have to wait!  When he says come at 6PM, that means he is coming at 6:30.”

“That’s not nice,” said the grand-daughter, the one and only time I heard her speak the entire night.

Some of the men laughed at her statement about Rabbi Greenstein.  A man named “Ralph,” with glasses and a hearing aide, called this rabbi a jerk.  He gave the son some simple advice.

“Next time there is a death, call Rabbi Goodwin from the “other temple” on Main Street,” he said.

Mr. Weiner, Barry’s father, and a friend of Rabbi Greenstein, disagreed with Ralph.

“Let’s be honest, Ralph.  If Rabbi Greenstein told us to all be here at 6:30, half of us would be walking in at 6:40. so rather than insulting the nice rabbi, I think we should acknowledge him as a clever and intelligent man.   I don’t know about you, but I like that in a rabbi.  You don’t want a dumb rabbi.”

“He has a point,” said the man who initially met me out in the front.  “Say what you want about Obama, but he’s very very smart.  And we need that now in this country.  Would you rather have Bush in office?  Someone dumb?   It’s also good to have a smart rabbi.”

“Bush was good for Israel” said another man, the one conservative in the home.

“Bush was the worst president ever.” said someone Mr. Weiner, and everyone accepted his word, as he was known to read the entire New York Times every morning in the Dominican coffee shop.”

As the men discussed rabbis and Presidents, my mind wandered back to the grand-daughter, and the true land of Milk and Honey calling my name from beneath her shirt.

“How’s your mother doing?” asked Mr. Weiner, bringing me back to reality.

“Good.  Thanks.  Hey, I saw Barry last week.  We took a ride down to see Shea Stadium being dismantled.   He was very sad.   He loved Shea Stadium.”

“How’s the new stadium?”

“It’s OK.  Supposedly it is replica of Ebbett’s Field.”

“Phooey,” said Ralph.  “There is only ONE Ebbett’s Field.  I used to live one block away from Ebbett’s Field.  You could literally hear the crack when Jackie Robinson swung his bat.”

“That’s bullshit.” said the Bush supporter.  “I used to live on Bedford Avenue.  I used to cut school every day to go to the game.  You could not hear the bat swinging.  Maybe you were hearing your mother making gefilte fish in the bathtub!”

The men at laughed at this clever diss.  The party was just getting going, when the clock rang 6:30 and the rabbi showed up at the front door.  The widow came out to join the others.  All of the men got up to greet her.  I stood up as well, out of respect.

I was surprised to see Eleanor, one of the women who played mah jongg with my mother.

“Oh, Neil.  How nice of you to come here,” she said.

“i’m so sorry to hear about this,” I replied.

While I am not terribly close with this woman, she was the first person in the building to know the “real” reason for my return to Queens, after I scolded my mother from keeping my separation a secret out of embarrassment.   I even wrote a post several month ago about Eleanor, and her attempt to revive my marriage by reading her favorite book, “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.”

From October 2008 —

Eleanor, the woman who sits in the back with her husband in the wheel chair, is one of those who knows the real story about why I am in New York.   After all, how long can I really be “visiting” for?  But good intentions have bad results.  Since then,  I cannot walk past Eleanor without her calling me over for one of her “helpful” lectures about marriage and relationships.

“I have been married for fifty one years,” she told me a few weeks ago, her husband nodding in the background.  “And let me tell you, it hasn’t always been easy.    But it wasn’t until about five years ago that I truly understood what marriage is all about… what makes a marriage work.  It was all because I read a book.  You must read this book.    This book changed my life.  I don’t know if you ever heard of it, but it is called… “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”  Have you read this book?”

I have read this book and thought it was hogwash, so I lied.

“I haven’t read it.   But I have heard of it.  It is about how men and women are different.”

“Exactly.   After reading this book, everything about men and women became clear to me.  This book is as important as the Old Testament.  Let me give you an example of why.    A husband and wife are getting dressed to go to a Temple function.  Everyone who’s anyone is going to be there.  The husband says, “Let’s get going.  We’re going to be late.”  The wife is busy putting on her make-up, wanting to look her best.   The wife asks, “How do I look?”  The husband says, “Fine.  Now, let’s go.”  And then the wife is upset at her husband for the rest of the night because he said she was looking “fine” and not “beautiful.”  “What did I say?” asks the husband.    He doesn’t get it.   That’s because he is from Mars and she is from Venus.  You are from Mars.  Your wife is from Venus.  Always remember that.”

It was her husband that had passed away a few days ago.  And no, I never read the book again after she suggested it.

I also remember another conversation that I had with her in the Fall while I was taking one of my walks.

Only once she did try to be a matchmaker.    She has a granddaughter who is interested in television production, a “beautiful redhead” who is having trouble finding a “Jewish man with a good soul.”

“But she’s just 22, so you are too old.” she added at the end.

“No, she’s not,” screamed my Penis, but the muffled sound from inside my pants never reached Eleanor and her hearing aide.  Eh, her granddaughter is probably a Wo-man from Venus anyway, which does not bode well for our relationship.

Are you saying that Ms. Perfect Breasts is this woman’s 22 year old grand-daughter?!

The rabbi started the prayer service.  He had us face east, towards Jerusalem.  This required that I did a 180 turn, which put the grand-daughter behind me, which was probably for the best.  I was now facing a wall entirely covered by photographs of the family, snapshots of this married couple’s life.   There were fading black and white photos from the old days, Kodachrome shots from the 1970s of their son growing up, his bar mitzvah, his graduation, a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, a vacation in Puerto Rico, the son’s wedding, the birth of the grand-daughter who would one day grow up to have these Godly-blessed ample breasts!

Eleanor had been married for fifty-one years.  What a run!  What memories!

After the service, I thought there might be some food, as is usual in any Jewish event, but it seemed that everyone just wanted to go home to their families.  I said good-bye to the unfriendly son and grand-daughter from New Jersey, taking a quick look down the grand-daughter’s shirt one last time before I left, in case I never had the opportunity ever again.

I went over to Eleanor and gave my condolences.   She seemed so grateful that I came for the service.

“Say hello to your mother for me! ” she said.  “The mah jongg game is not the same without her.”

I tried to think of something clever to say, but I drew a blank.  I am terrible at these moments.  What can you say to someone who just lost their husband of fifty-one years?   I hugged her.

“Have you read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” yet? she asked.

“No,” I said.  “But I will.   And I will think of you and your husband, because the two of you clearly figured out a way to align the planets.”

My Once A Year Jewish Rant

Today, I’m going to take this time to explore some Jewish-related subjects that I’m in the mood to rant about to you, my Jewish and non-Jewish friends.  I’m not sure why it occurred to me to write this today.  Maybe it was the bagels and lox I had for breakfast.

I’m usually much of a ranter.   I don’t have too many hang-ups over religion.   I’m not overly-touchy about Israel.   I don’t see anti-Semitism in every joke.  That would make me hypocritical, especially since I spend a good deal of my day making jokes about Catholics and Mormons.  We all have our own ethnic and religious prides and foibles, and the great thing about America is that we can freely express it.

It’s pretty clear that I am a Jewish guy, right?  So, I think it might be interesting to you to hear what I think about some of the following topics.  And if you disagree with anything I say, don’t be afraid to say it.

1) Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays

christmasandhannukah

Remember me?  The guy who throws the online Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa concert every year?  I like all holidays. Maybe next year, we can throw in a Muslim holiday into the concert mix as well! I’m all for inclusiveness.   However, every year, I find myself in the middle of the same boring argument — should Christians say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?”  Some are adamant that America is really a “Christian” nation and are upset that outsiders are undermining the sacredness of this three month consumer bonanza we call “Christmas.”  Naturally, the haters always come out to play.  And we all know who are the biggest kvetchers about Christmas, right?  The Jews.  First Jesus, now Christmas.  What spoilers!

Here’s my take.  If you live in a big city were there are many religions and minorities, you should be able to make a big public display of your holiday.  There are plenty of those not celebrating your holiday, so we don’t feel bad.  We go for Chinese food.  Everyone loves Christmas trees.  However, if you live in a small town in mid-America where there is only one Jewish and one Muslim family, it probably would be nice if you went OUT OF YOUR WAY to make the outsiders feel comfortable, which means stop pushing for nativity scenes outside of the public library and city hall!  Who wants to be told “It’s a Christian nation” right to your face? It isn’t polite.

2) Israel and Gaza

gaza

Is God playing a joke on the Jews with Israel?  What a pain in the ass this country is! And have you ever tried to date an Israeli woman.  Talk about tough!  Israel is a tough subject for liberal Jews to talk about in public.  I have no problem with it.  During the recent election, I found it extremely annoying how the McCain campaign was trying to appeal to American Jews by creating “Obama is a Muslim” fear, as if we were a bunch of idiots.  Jews go to college.  We’re not that stupid.  On the other hand, I don’t find much of the progressive community a big fan of Israel, since these good-hearted souls prefer to side with the underdog, and not the American-allied bully.  And who can honestly root for a country that bombs poverty-stricken innocent women and children in their mosques and schools?

So what is a liberal Jew supposed to do?

I’ll never forget when some columnist wrote a post on the BlogHer political site advocating shipping all Jews from Israel to some place in Siberia, which would help defuse the problem in the Middle East, and friends of mine, normally outspoken political women, were protecting this writer, saying, “Well, perhaps it is an issue we should discuss.”  Maybe conservatives are right about liberals being the Jewish people’s worst friends!  My mother went to Boca Raton to escape the cold.  No Jew WANTS to move to Siberia!

Some of my favorite progressive bloggers, especially the ones in Europe, were very angry over the recent fighting in Gaza.  Many Europeans dislike the Israeli government, and think the American media is controlled by the pro-Israeli propaganda machine.  Two bloggers I know wrote pieces demanding that Israel be held for war crimes for the murder of innocent children.  On one of the posts, the word HAMAS was never used once. The scenario in Gaza was presented as “Israeli occupiers vs. people of Gaza.”

“What happened to the real bad guys in the story?” I commented.

Talk about propaganda!  While I was worried that I was losing my liberal credentials by bringing this up, it bugged me that someone could complain about slanted views, and substitute it with another man’s propaganda!   Wasn’t Hamas shipping in increasingly powerful weapons and hiding them in schools and mosques AND purposely endangering innocent victims for their own purposes?   What the hell was Hamas doing (with Iran’s help) by sacrificing their innocents for power and ideology?  Shouldn’t THEY be put up for war crimes?  The deaths of so many innocents is shameful, and it angers me that so many excuse the actions of Hamas as if they a local boy scout troup.

Sometimes I think the best thing for the Palestinians to do is to accept that they lost the endless war and start to figure out a way to live peacefully with their strong victors, like Japan did after World War II. Forget talking about 1948 and 1967.   Much of the Arab world likes to keep the Palestinians angry and in poverty, so they can keep them as a symbolic thorn in Israel’s side, and control their own corrupt governments.  HAMAS needs to accept Israel already, stop throwing bricks at the big bully’s head, and start asking their Arab brothers to help build some nice hotels by the Ocean and trying to really compete with Israel by offering better vacation packages.

But no one progressive would ever say that.

3) Beautiful Barcelona

barcelona

January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to remember the victims of the Holocaust.  This date marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

As I mentioned, Europeans were very angry over the recent fighting in Gaza.  And many European cities have large Muslim populations that are a growing political power.  Because the local Barcelona media had run stories comparing the Israeli stance on the situation in the Strip to Nazi atrocities, the Catalunya government called off the city’s public memorial service.  This was to be the only public event marking the day, and was scheduled to take place in Barcelona’s central piazza.

“Marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right,” a local City official told Barcelona’s La Vanguardia newspaper.

Despite my love for the beautiful city of Barcelona, I found this quite disturbing.   Even if one is upset over Israel’s actions, why exactly is this the fault of those exterminated in Nazi death camps?  They don’t live in Israel.  They’re already dead.  If the Barcelona government was more logical, they would CELEBRATE this occasion, because if these six million would survived, there is a strong chance that THEY would be living in Israel themselves, as well as their children and grand-children, and the Israeli population would be three times as large, and Israel would even have a larger army in which to go into Gaza!  So next year, rather than pooh-poohing the holiday, I say free Tapas in Barcelona for everyone!

4) 1/3 of all Europeans

berniemadoff

A week after the Bernie Madoff scandal broke, I was having coffee with my friend Barry.  We were discussing the amazing hubris of this guy.  How could he pull this off?

“There’s one thing that is cool about this country,” I said.   “Bernie Madoff is clearly Jewish and his victims were wealthy Jews, but Americans never say things like, “Oh, the Jews, they’re always ripping people off.   All they care about is money.”

My friend laughed and said, “In Queens, they don’t, but believe me. they’re are doing it everywhere else.”

Call me naive, but I would assume most of those old stereotypes have died already in a country with an African-American President.  That’s why it is good to have Europe around for some of that old-fashioned anti-Semitism.  Good ol’ Europe — home of the Crusades, the Inquisition, forced conversion, and the Holocaust.  Even when most of the Jews are killed off, it is still the fault of the Jews… especially during economic downturns.   It has to be someone’s fault, right?

The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that a survey it commissioned found nearly a third of Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world.   In Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets.  That is the highest percentage in the survey.  Nearly two-thirds of Spanish respondents said Jews were also more loyal to Israel than they were to their home countries.

Did I ever tell you that Sophia and I honeymooned in Spain?  We loved it, except for the fact that it was almost impossible to find anything to eat that wasn’t made from the pig!  Hmmm…

5) Circumcision

bris

Can you believe that until I read this post on Her Bad Mother, I didn’t know that circumcision was such a big issue and that there are many ANGRY over it?!   I know that Americans tend to be circumcised more readily than Europeans (uh-oh, I can feel the American Jewish doctors having a hand in this… more trouble), and that it is considered unnecessary to many.  But what is the big deal?  I say, if you don’t want your son to get circumcized, don’t do it.  Who cares?  I don’t remember any discussion in the locker room between circumcised and uncircumcised men, or any laughing and pointing.  They are just penises.

But the fact is that circumcision is a big deal in Judaism.   It is probably one of the oldest traditions in the book, a symbol of the convenant between God and his people.   Jews have been doing it a long time without much trauma (unless research shows that circumcision is the cause of our neurotic behavior, but how would we then explain the neurotic Jewish women?).

Her Bad Mother’s post was intelligent and well-reasoned about her personal decision not to have her son circumcised, but if you do some googling on the subject, you find some scary stuff, and not just from crazy people, but from seemingly “loving” people who care about their children.   Circumcision is called “primitive” and “barbaric” and “genital mutation.”  It “destroys a man’s sexual pleasure” and “torments” the baby and should be “made illegal!”  WTF are we talking about?  Jack Bauer’s interrogation techniques on “24?”

Even if a person did have these beliefs about circumcision, I would think it impolite to blast a tradition so integral to another religion — in public!  There are all sorts of weird rites and rituals that occur around the world, and we appreciate them as part of some other culture.  Do people really want to make the bris illegal?  Would the same person feel as comfortable saying that wearing a burka should be made illegal?  Can you really compare the bris to female genital mutilation?

The whole issue sort of amused me.   Have you ever been to a bris?  The ceremony is done quickly, and then everyone eats a lot of food.  The only thing barbaric about the event is the amount of cholesterol in traditional Jewish food and the overly-sweet taste of the kosher wine.

Danny told me that he once wrote a post about the Jewish bris on the Huffington Post, and it received so many anti-Semitic comments that they had to remove the post from the Huffington Post.

Here is Danny’s post
, which is on his own blog, Jew Eat Yet.

This was his reaction after taking the post off the Huffington Post. And remember — the Huffington Post readership is a progressive one, believers in freedom of speech and religion.

Last Friday I posted my piece about circumcision which was mostly a family reminiscence based on an old discovered film I saw of my 1959 bris. I added a few comments about the people who oppose circumcision and I adopted an over-the-top and I thought humorous tone of intransigence about Kendall’s ambivalence towards the procedure. When I first saw my post zooming to the “Top Posts” list on Huffington, a way they have to track the most-read pieces, and the comments started pouring in fast and furious, I was excited that my post was generating such controversy. But I was unprepared for the level of hysteria that the “anti-circ” people would unleash, some of it accompanied by blatant anti-Semitism. Never in a million years did I mean to imply that circumcising your male child was the “right” thing to do, I was just sharing my own very personal feelings on the subject, all the while saying that this anti-circumcision group makes some valid points (which I still feel they muck up by resorting to outrageous hyperbole and propaganda).

I thought I had a very tough skin when it came to people sharing opposing views but I am not used to the level of personal attacks I received on the Huffington Post. Here is a sampling:

—Pull your head out of your egotistical Jewish ass.

—Let’s make a movie…at least this time it will have sound to preserve your pompous Jewish pontification (or should I say rabbification?).

—Your wife has a better sense of what a woman wants a penis partner to look like. Unless you’re planning to raise a gay son.

—Would you think the same thing if all male babies had to have their ears cut off at birth? Let’s dress up and make a fucking ritual of it and have a party with covered dishes!

—This last bit of animal sacrifice needs to end no matter the sentimental charm it has over older Jews.

—While you’re at it, Danny, you should really think about having all your children’s fingernails removed. After all, they are unnecessary in the evolutionary sense.

—YOU are the reason there are self-hating Jews, asshole. Your son would have every reason to hate you for being a coward.

—I demand that you CUT YOUR SON’S PENIS YOURSELF. See if THAT brings you closer to God!

—Fascism comes in all forms and degrees…you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

—Is this “mark” kind of like that yellow star the Nazis had all Jews sew on their clothes during WW2? They tried tattoos, too. How did those work out?

—Kendall, don’t damage and risk your child’s life by allowing some idiot to chop off the most sexually pleasurable part of his penis. Chop off that idiot you married instead, and do it before you get pregnant. Find a human being for a father for your children and replace this monster.

—Being Jewish and circumcised is no excuse for the kind of abusive behavior Miller exhibits. Many Jews are humane, decent people. This bozo is a disgrace to the good name of Judaism.

—Circumcising infants is a Satanic blood ritual. That is the only possible explanation for the persistence of this heinous evil. Human beings are not this evil. Only Satan himself is. All children circumcised are severely injured for life.

All I can say is that I am blessed with my friendly readership. You seem to like me, despite my circumcised Jewish talking penis.

I Believed in Santa Claus

santaa

I never thought to tell this story on the blog, mostly because it didn’t seem like anything special, but when I told a blogger about it, her response was surprising, so maybe my experience was more unique than I thought.

When I was a child, I believed in Santa Claus.

Remember, I am Jewish.  Of course, there are many Jewish parents who tell their children about Santa Claus so the children don’t feel “different.”  There are others who avoid mentioning Santa completely, worried that their kids will lose their Jewish identity to the mainstream culture.

My father loved Santa Claus. It was sort of an odd obsession.  He dressed like Santa for the children in the hospital where he worked.  He shouted with excitement when Santa appeared at the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.   If my father was alive today, one of the question I would love to ask him is, “What the hell was it with YOU and SANTA?”

Our family did not celebrate Christmas.  We never had a Christmas Tree.  We never made eggnog.  I never felt like I was missing out.  We always celebrated Hanukkah. But for some reason, my father loved Santa Claus, and told me that Santa really existed.

Now here is where it gets interesting, because my father was an eccentric guy.   He told me that there WAS a Santa Claus, but that he didn’t come to OUR HOME because we were Jewish.   He skipped over us like the angel of death on Passover.

“It isn’t our holiday, so Santa doesn’t come to us,”  he said.

In retrospect, this might seem like child cruelty.  Why even say there IS a Santa, if he isn’t coming to visit you?   But it never bothered me or made me upset.  It made logical sense.   It wasn’t my holiday, so this bearded guy and his reindeer didn’t bother schlepping to me!   My father was able to  create a whole different meaning for Santa Claus, making him seem mystical, but from afar, like a visiting baseball team’s cool mascot.

So, I believed in Santa, even if he didn’t show up at my home.

“What about Anthony?” I wondered, referring to the Italian Catholic kid down the hall.  “How does Santa get to him since our building doesn’t have any chimneys?”

“Santa comes through the terrace door.”

“OK.”

It seemed sort of odd, but I figured that Santa had to deal with a lot of modern urban obstacles, like telephone wires and satellites.

Every year, my father would drag me downtown to Macy’s 34th Street to visit the “real” Santa Claus.  We would wait in this Disneyland-sized line.  Wide-eyed children from throughout the city were eager to meet their hero.  I was more excited about going to Nathan’s for hot dogs afterwards, but I saw my father’s happiness over ME meeting Santa, so I played along.

“There he is!  Can you see him?” he said, pointing to Santa sitting on his throne.  My father’s voice had the same enthusiasm of someone feasting their eyes on the Pope at the Vatican.  “It’s Santa Claus.”

After an hour, it was my time to go face-to-face with jolly St. Nick.  I would sit on his lap, which always made me feel uncomfortable.  Why did I have to sit on his lap just to talk with him?   When Kissinger went on diplomatic “talks” he never sat on the Chinese Premier’s lap.  But I was respectful to Santa and did what he asked, because — after all — this was Santa Claus.  And I knew our meeting was a special moment, and needed to be recorded for posterity, which explained the elf with the KISS shirt taking our photo with a bright flash.

“And what would you like for Christmas, young man?”  he asked me.

“Well, nothing really.  I’m Jewish.”

“Ho Ho Ho, Jewish boys and girls also get presents from Santa.”

“No, we don’t.”

“So, what do you want for Hanukkah?”  he retorted, already trained to handle the annoying smart-aleck Jewish boys.

“I don’t know.  Whatever my parents get for me.”

“Do you want to whisper to Santa something you really really want and I will put in a good word for you?”

I leaned in.  Santa had bad breath.

“Hot Wheels Stunt Track…maybe.”

“Very good.  And were you a good boy this year?”

“Yeah,” I said, with a “Duh” tone to my voice, considering that Santa should already know this answer.  Hadn’t he been taking notes all year on who was nice and who was naughty?  I was beginning to doubt the authenticity of  this department store Santa.  Years later, I had a similar experience in Hebrew School when I questioned why God had to ask Adam if he had eaten from “The Tree of Life.”

“Why would he have to ask Adam this question?”

“He was testing him,” said grouchy Rabbi Ginsburg.

“It makes no sense.” I replied, using my young Talmudic knowledge.  “If he was God, wouldn’t he already know this?”

As I left Macy’s, I told my father that I was not impressed with this Santa Claus.  I asked my father for the truth.  Was this red-suited guy with the fake beard and bad breath really “Santa Claus?”

“No.  This Santa was a BAD one.  Even I play a better Santa Claus.  And I’m not even that fat.”

Something clicked in my head.  If my father dresses as Santa, and the guy in Macy’s is a fake, then…

“There’s no Santa Claus, is there?” I questioned. “It makes no sense.”

“Nah,” he admitted, a little sad at the myth being put to rest. “There is no Santa Claus.”

He paused for a moment, and then took one more final stand, like the soldier climbing over the hill in a suicide mission.

“But maybe… just maybe… I AM Santa Claus!”

I didn’t buy it.

“If you were Santa Claus, you wouldn’t be living in Flushing, would you?”

I stumped him.

“No,” he said.

And that was the end of me believing in Santa Claus.  It was fun while it lasted.

My father and I walked down 34th Street and went to Nathan’s for some hot dogs, then we went home, just in time for sunset and watching my mother light the Hanukkah menorah.

Thinking About Religion

I don’t know if it is stress, loneliness, the upcoming Holiday season, or economic fears about the future, but I thought about religion today.  Perhaps, it is the book I am reading, “The Jew and the Lotus,” or the pizza slice I had for lunch.  Although I’m a rational person, in another place, under different circumstances, I could see myself as a person involved in spirituality and mysticism, which to me, is the logical extension of creative writing.  After all, f irst a man talks to his Penis in silly sex stories, and soon, he is inevitably conversing with God.

I like to read YOUR posts where YOU write about your religion, no matter what your faith.  Even if I don’t believe in Jesus Christ or the holiness of Buddha, these are all human attempts to understand the world, which is… well, human.  I know it is cool to make fun of religious people, and they sometimes deserve it, but I respect those who think about the deep questions, such as “Why do shitty things happen to good people?” and “Will praying increase my traffic on my blog?” I regret that I don’t have more spirituality in my life.  The “community” of Twitter is fun, but it doesn’t truly connect me to the ethical and spiritual thinkers of the past and present.

When I hear a religious person talk, my mind’s first instinct is to say “bullshit,” but my heart believes that there is an energy out “there.”   Even when I encounter one of you online, available on IM, I can feel YOUR energy.  What is this energy?  Is it in my brain?  Why do I have a special connection to certain people?  Is it random or for a purpose?  Is there a universal energy — a God?  And what does this mean in reference to ethics or day to day life?   As for my own religion — how should a Jew act?  What does being Jewish mean?  Do I have to believe everything in the Torah?  Do I HAVE to eat gefilte fish?

I’m not going to bored you today with the crap that sometimes fills my mind when I’m not blogging or watching Judge Judy.    And don’t worry about me suddenly changing my blog title to “Scientologist of the Month.”  I don’t get involved in any religion which doesn’t joke about itself.  But I do think my “rational self” suppresses my more spiritual and mystical side, the one born a Pisces, the Neilochka who isn’t so straight-arrow logical, who might EVEN believe in the supernatural power of words.

OK, enough.   Back to the empirical world tomorrow.

Yom Kippur 2008

I take Yom Kippur seriously. Well, somewhat. I’m not going to synagogue this year, but I will fast most of the day. Am I religious? Not really. But unlike the other Jewish holidays, which revolve around food and family, this one is serious and solemn, and that makes me a little scared and anxious.

I kinda like that. You can feel the AWE.

On Yom Kippur, it’s as if the entire world is on your shoulders. The way I see it, on Christmas, Santa Claus may not give you a good toy if you were a bad boy. On Yom Kippur, God might just stick you with a really crappy year for the same reason.

From Wikipedia:

Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר‎, IPA: [ˈjɔm kiˈpur]), also known in English as the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Yom Kippur is the tenth and final day of the Ten Days of Repentance which begin with Rosh Hashanah. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a “book” on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During the Ten Days of Repentance, a Jew tries to amend his behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against his fellow man (bein adam lechavero). The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt (Vidui). At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers himself absolved by God.

There has been debates FOREVER about the real meaning of this “book of life” and how God seals your verdict. Does God really decide who will live and who will die? What about free will? And during the service, why does every ask for repetenace for sins they didn’t even do – like murder and robbery? Are we responsible for everyone’s sins? And the biggest question of them all — why do bad things happen to good people?

Recently, I chatted with a blogger who is very into “the Secret.” She believes that we attract good things through positive thought. So, I asked her what the Secret said about bad things.

“What if you get hit by a bus?” I asked. “Are you attracting the bus to hit you?”

“In a way you are.”

“Why would you WANT to be hit by a bus?”

“Maybe there is some larger reason you don’t know about.”

I find that nonsense.

Last year, Kyran from “Notes to Self” wrote an interesting post about The Secret after she viewed the DVD. Even though she saw some merit in positive thinking, she came away with the same conclusion about using The Secret on a day to day basis:

What does The Secret have to say about all the bright and hope-filled children in the world who suffer?

Judaism is not The Secret, as much as Madonna might think so. The Secret is mostly about achieving personal success. Judasim is a covenant with God. But both have the same problem that all religions do –explaining the randomness of life, and all the bad stuff that happens in it.

That said, I am too afraid of ignoring Yom Kippur completely. Just in case.

May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

The following song about Elijah the Prophet by the Moshav Band is probably more suitable for Passover than Yom Kippur, but even on this holiest of days, it is still my blog, and I can do what I want.

The Orthodox Jewish Guy Outside the Supermarket

I went down to Pathmark Supermarket to buy whole wheat hamburger buns and some bottles of Snapple.   In front of the entrance, was an Orthodox Jew handing out leaflets.  He was wearing a yarmulke and tzitzit, a traditional fringed garment worn under the clothing.  I’ve seen these guys before.   Some ultra-religious Jews go around and try to get less religious Jews to pay more attention to the various rituals of Judaism.  These men believe that the spreading of their religious fervor will hasten the arrival of the Messiah.

Usually, these Jews only bug other Jews.  They frequently ask passerbys, “Are you Jewish?” before they annoy the hell out of you.   I understand that they are on a mission, but sometimes I just want to walk to the supermarket without having to discuss religious issues.   The only time I’ve ever said that I WASN”T Jewish had nothing to do anti-Semitism.   It was to avoid one of these ultra-religious guys pestering me on the street about lighting the Shabbos candles.

“Here, take some candles. Light them on Friday night. Do you belong to a temple?  Come to our temple.  We even will feed you!”

They will feed you. I know their trick.   You go to their temple.  They feed you some good chicken soup, and then they OWN YOU!

What surprised me about this guy outside the supermarket was that he was not asking, “Are you Jewish?” to anyone.   He was handing out his leaflets and talking to every passerby, whether they were black or white or Latino or Asian.  Some of these shoppers quickly walked by, while others politely took one of his leaflets.

Was he trying to convert everyone to Judaism?

Three years ago, I wrote a post advocating Jews trying to convert other religions. I was being a little tongue in cheek.   At the time,  I felt that if other religions are always trying to convert you, why not return the favor?   In reality, conversion is a dirty word for most Jews because it brings up a sad history of forced conversion, mostly at the hands of Christians.   Even though I wrote that post, I don’t really feel comfortable with anyone trying to convert another person.

I wondered if this zealot outside my Queens supermarket felt safe trying to convert others to Judaism because we were in Queens, and there were many Jews in the neighborhood.   Maybe he felt safe in numbers, despite the fact that there was a mosque right across the street.

This made me angry.   If I were a Jew in a Christian neighborhood, I would hate having someone try to convert me outside my local supermarket.  I would feel as if I was being pressured to be “one of the majority.”  I’m not a hypocrite.    Why should a Jew try to convert others in our neighborhood?   Surely, the religions of others — whether it be Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism — is as worthy a religion.   This smug Jewish guy, passing out leaflets, was arrogant.  It didn’t matter if he was “part of my tribe.”

I walked into the supermarket, using a side door, just to avoid him.

After I finished my shopping, I looked through the store window, and saw my Jewish friend deep in conversation with a black mother and her son.  The mother took the flier, nodding in agreement.  Did he just sucker in another victim to leave her own religion behind?  My face grew red.  This idiot was giving the Jewish people a bad name.

I walked outside, waiting for him to hand me a flier and engage me in conversation.  I walked by and he completely ignored me.   What was up with that?!   Did he see that I was angry and was worried about a conflict?   Or could he tell that I was already Jewish so he didn’t need to convert me?   And how did he know I was Jewish?   Was he judging me on my Jewish nose like a racist would do?   Was this Jewish man stereotyping a fellow Jew?

Hell, I wanted him to try to convert me!   I wanted him to hand me one of those leaflets, so I can shove it back in his face and tell him that this is not the ways Jews should behave.  That it is a shame for him to stand there in his yarmulke and tzitzit and show such disregard for other cultures and other religions.

I did a 360 and entered the supermarket again, just so I could exit a second time and get one of those leaflets.  I quickly re-walked my steps, leaving the market as I did before, not even waiting for the electric door to fully open.  I walked past the ultra-religious Jewish guy, who was eagerly handing out his leaflets — and the asshole ignored me again.

That was enough for me.   Like Abraham, who would sacrifice Isaac, his son, because of God’s word, I knew that it was my moral obligation to confront my Jewish nemesis.  I stepped in front of him.

“May I have one of those leaflets.”

“Sure,” he said reluctantly.

He handed me one. I held it tightly in my hand, ready to start my diatribe against religious hypocrisy.  And then I read the piece of paper:

“Looking to sell your condo?  Call 718-555-1212.”

When I arrived home, I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair had gotten long again. I was unshaven. I was wearing an old t-shirt. Apparently, I was stereotyped by this guy as someone who can’t afford to own a condo.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the MonthTruth and Fiction

Prayer

In the last post, I had a little fun with a BlogHer session titled “Is Mommyblogging Still a Radical Act?”  I found this amusing to watch the word “radical” exploited and mangled so all the air seeps out of it like a cheap balloon from the 99 cent only store.

I tend to avoid using the word “radical” unless something is RADICAL.

“Doctor, the patient is losing blood.  We’re going to have to do something RADICAL like taking off his leg so he can survive!

Radical rarely happens.  Or else it wouldn’t be RADICAL.  The French Revolution.  Radical.  Mommyblogging.  Eh.

Here’s something mildly radical.  I’m going to mention God on my blog.

If you read through my archives, you will notice that I have made fun of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  I find religion funny.  It is funny.  It deals with impossible issues.  But I’m not so cocky as to dismiss the power of God. I may make jokes about God, but I wouldn’t tell them to Him right to His face.  While I have no knowledge of His true existence, I like to believe that there is some unifying force.  It’s good to be in awe of something more than Dooce.

Nothing annoys me more than when actors thank Jesus for winning an Oscar or when a team prays to God, asking to win the pennant.  This nonsense gives religion a bad name.  If your team wins, does that mean God hates the OTHER team?

I think it is entirely appropriate to ask for God’s help in times of bad health. God created man and life, and nothing hampers our enjoyment of life more then bad health.  Who wants to smell a flower, eat an apple, or have mind-blowing sex on the carpet while listening to Barry White on the CD player when you feel like crap?

Several of my blogging friends are having health issues.  This makes me feel bad.  I know how much stress this puts on you and your family.  I remember how supportive you were when Sophia was having surgery.

May God be merciful and heal those in need.  Please bring good health to your Children, so we may fully enjoy your World.  God, your true name is RADICAL.  I cover my eyes to say your name.   Send your strength to those in need.

The July 4th BBQ

Yes, diversity.  We all love it.  But mostly when your “group” is in the majority and the “others” agree to do everything your way.  But once the Latinos want to speak Spanish, the Jews grumble about nativity scenes on public property, or men demand to speak at BlogHer, you know there’s going to be trouble.

Growing up, my Queens apartment building was mostly filled with Jews who moved from Brooklyn and the Bronx to the “greener” pastures of Queens.  Queens is connected to Long Island, so it was sort of moving to the suburbs, but still close enough to take the subway to work.  Most of these families were working class.  The Jewish children went to Hebrew school, although most of the parents weren’t religious.  I used to return from Hebrew school at night, scolding my parents for not doing the right Jewish rituals, such as lighting the Friday night shabbos candles.  My mother always had the same excuse –“I forgot.”

Today, the building has a wider assortment of residents.  While there is still a large percentage of Jews, these are different than types than before – Russians, Israelis, and the Orthodox.  I’m surprised by how many Russians are living here now.  Just when I’m trying to get Sophia out of my mind, all I hear is Russian in the elevator every day. 

There are also many black, Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani families.

Although the apartment building is a Mitchell-Lama middle class housing, sort of a fancy “project” — it is a co-op where tenant own their apartments, even though when the tenants leave, they don’t make any real profit from it.  The co-op is run by elected Board of Directors.  My father was on the Board of Directors for many years, and used to tell us stories of the infighting among the elected “officials.”  It was my first introduction to politics.  Every single issue about the apartment building resulted in an enormous fight between the tenants, matters such as where to put the garbage can  to the amount of the Christmas bonuses given to the “porters.”  When one board of director would get angry at another one, he would inevitably start a hate campaign, travelling to each floor of the co-op and slipping an “anonymous” letter under each door, accusing this person of some evil deed.  And there was some crookedness going on.  Many of the board members were tradesmen or salesmen.  One of them happened to sell washing machines.  Guess who became the supplier of the apartment buildings washing machines in the laundry room?

My father always complained about the Board of Directors, but every year he would run again for office.  I was his campaign manager.  I would type a letter up for him (even as a twelve year old I was quoting “Profiles of Courage”), Xerox hundreds, and then slide the propaganda under each door.  Even though he said he hated the Board, he obviously loved it.  Finally, after twenty years on the Board — when I was in college, — he was kicked out of office.  They wanted some fresh blood.  I remember him being very hurt.

Now, these were the days when the majority of the tenants were all Jewish.  One group — a lot of infighting.  Imagine what it is like now, when there are twenty different ethnic groups.

About a month ago, the Board of Directors had an idea to bring the building together:  have a July 4th BBQ in the back of the building, near “the benches.”  It sounded like a good idea.  However, one of the Board Members reminded everyone that many of the Orthodox religious families were kosher, so the Board decided to only buy kosher meat.  Soon, the board received a letter signed by several of the families that were “Glatt Kosher.”  This is a more super-stringent kosher that is followed by those who are even MORE orthodox than the Orthodox.  Even I had to look up exactly what made something “glatt kosher” —

For meat to be kosher, it must come from a kosher animal and be slaughtered in a kosher way. For meat to be glatt kosher, in addition to the two above conditions, the meat must also come from an animal with adhesion-free or smooth lungs.

The word glatt means smooth in Yiddish. In Jewish Law, the term glatt is used to refer to the lungs of animals. After the animal is slaughtered, the animal is opened and examined to determine whether the lungs are smooth. If defects on the lungs are found, the meat is considered treif (torn, mortally injured, non-kosher). If the lungs are found to be defect-free or smooth, the meat is considered to be glatt kosher.

While the term glatt technically means the lungs of the kosher and kosher-slaughtered animal were smooth, the term is often used colloquially to imply a higher standard of kashrut, similar to the term mehadrin.

Furthermore, even though only meat can be technically glatt kosher, the term is often loosely used today to refer to non-meat items. Many suppliers of glatt kosher items will refer to all their products at glatt kosher. So one may find fish with the same glatt kosher sticker as used on meat being sold one aisle over. In addition, many suppliers of glatt kosher meat will refer to their whole service as glatt kosher. So there are glatt kosher caterers, restaurants and stores.

Got it?

Surprisingly, the Glatt Kosher tenants mostly pissed off the non-religious Jewish tenants, because to make sure it was glatt kosher the building would have to buy the food from a glatt kosher deli and the price would be twice as much — all for a few families. 

The story doesn’t end there.  As I mentioned, this apartment building is now more diverse than in the past.  The Jewish tenants don’t run the show anymore. All of a sudden, the Indian and Muslim tenants were bringing up their OWN dietary issues.  Shouldn’t the food also be halal?  Will beef be served? 

The Board of Directors arranged for a special meeting to discuss this issue.  They convened in their war room.

To cap it off, after the recent death of a tenant, her son from Vermont took over the apartment.   He seems like a nice guy — he has a long beard and is into yoga and meditation.  He follows this local guru named Sri Chinoy, who believes in health through running races (!), and he went to the Board of Directors and insisted on a vegetarian BBQ.

The BBQ has been canceled.

Important update:   Just heard from someone in the elevator that there is a last-moment attempt to revive the BBQ by changing the food plan to sandwiches that are made at a glatt kosher and halal SUBWAY.

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