Saturday, February 24, 2007

Yom HakiPurim

My friend phoned me. Like clockwork, she does that. Every Erev Yom Hapurim a certain sense of holiness comes over her, and she begins the search for means to prepare herself for God. She calls me for forgiveness and it’s not beyond her to beg at my knees. I respect her for that. Then she wants me to help her find a kosher shpitzle, so she can approach the Day of Atonement all ready. She wants me to guide her to the light.

We need a gemach for headgear, she cries. Don’t you people know how to accept Balei Teshuvas?

Not funny.

I personally, don’t like that getup. For me, I’ve been found staring at the furry pom-pom tail of the bunny costume. I suggested to Yoelish that he could dress up as the zissa carrot, to complete the seasonal spirit.

But well, Yom HaPurim tends to pass and for all the shake-up, life goes back to the usual. So I can’t afford the adult-eared-one-piece just yet. Shishon Purim can be cruel on ex-rabbits.

In the end, I’m dressing up in a white dress coat. No, no, not as a doctor. Doctor S. Shtrimpkind, MD PHD VIP ADD, with a remote stethoscope. \(Wake up, not a doctor I said. N-O-Ttt. \ Damn.). I’m gonna wear that coat, because I believe that that is the only way a woman should approach the holy day. In a white kittel.

On the Yom HaKippurim for men, the one that takes place in ellul, I enjoy the view from the top. From the balcony I watch the men freeze their butts off all day in shul. I would never make it in one place that long. I guess the knowledge that they spend all this time alternating between one wooden chair and two blue feet, I kind of excuse the ones I watch abusing their beards. (Push, pull, krazel, other hand, stare into the ceiling, curl the knot, run through from mustache to chin. Repeat process - as many times as possible). See, when I leave shul after a meager hour of participation, and rush home to feed peanut-butter sandwich to the kids, I am convinced that this day is shorter for us women.

On Yom HaPurim, tables are turned without mercy. I start the month by preaching "ivdu es hashem besimcha" only to try to fool myself out of what an ivdu I'm about to be. As I say tehillim on Esther Tannis, I have one bakasha. I let the tears free as I ask hashem to be matzil of evil puke.


Like these things go, the pangs really start about 2:00 pm into the second day. We then visit the in-laws to get the brucha of Purim Gelt. We come bursting in to a house full of the sound of prayer. Who knows why these people insist on turning the volume knob around chay times, till the powerful layhidim niggun hilchs oop into your kishkes, and makes an imprint on your eardrum that shall forever remain in you kemoi kol nidreh.

I should find me a zits and stop complaining, I tell myself, because I’ll spend the rest of my day praying fervently.

Uvini Malkini, please, zei dich derbarem of deyneh, or meyneh, children... They vehemently refuse to take their coats off, leaving my hand-sewn work buried in sweat. They tear through every can or box for sugar shapes, the consumption of which is rewarded with ample energy I cannot compete. ThI give up when they challenge the tall furniture or younger folks. I have talk to small humans through their white beards that have already been tasted, and tongue-tunneled, by every human my kin with salivary glands.

I coordinate meticulously my gift bags with the costumes. I tease the ribbons into perfect payos. I unscrew the door before we drag in the eye-popper to my mother. I deliver the basket to my shvigger with a crane. I ooh and ahh over the slice of kindle my sister wrapped up in a saran wrap for me, look at the stunning small kedem wine with gustah, and pat her on the back. I'll taste it all, I say, as soon as I'm done eating all the grass you filled the bag with.

Then I take out my pissum and ramseys and give it to her. Nah, it’s nothing, I'm being anivasdig. It’s horrible. I wanted to bake you a seven layer cake instead of the mini mirangues, chocolate truffles and engraved cookies.

Ha. Eat your heart out. Hearty appetite. (Alright, I am secretly evil. Salachtuh?)

A guy comes bursting through the door, followed by his sons. I know him, only now his beard is down and teased and he wears that litvish hat, from which sly contentment drips down, into a wise smile.

"Nee, dee frowen?" One of his sons, hardly 18, asks a sheilah. We are all ushered out, and I continue to watch the spectacle from the dining room door, over my mother-in-law's shoulder. The men vitzle themselves amongst each other, upon which I curse the damn headgear for making me deaf - completely. The half-drunk litvak whispers something l'men. He then leans back, giggles heartily and fumbles through all the glass bottles for a 'real sip'.

As they get up and dance, I know that I am in gulles. My baby holding onto my hip, us leaning through the entrance, holding the breath for the vase to survive the storm, I wonder why I have to see all this. Like a hungry person watching someone eat, I yearn to pull up a chair and bend in.

I wink to my husband as loudly as possible. He holds up a big hand, and finishes his cup. "Don't worry. Just a bit, it's Purim, a mitzvah. I won't get drunk this year. You know I can handle it".

I roll my eyes deep into my head. Anyone hear that?

He's doing his third cup, and I'm not counting anymore, or looking. I eat my food but the my palatte does not respond to the gourmet. Yoelish is wearing a 1 inch shreimel that opens at every shpitz, and runs all over the place to the music. It's shake before drink, so he dances wildly before downing another one.

Then he comes over to his mother, a little too close, and starts to explain to her. "farvoos hustee eer nisht leeb? Mayn vaab, mammi, dee kenst eer nisht! Mwua" He kisses into the air.

Shoot me.

He tilts back on his heals and forgets why he came over here. He runs back to the men where they start to talk Torah, and do teshuvah with loud cries. They hug each tightly.

My sister in law isn't that lucky either. True, it's my boy that balled at the wall, but she gets locked up in a room where her husband is loudly telling her how many sins they're doing. When Yoelish starts to look at me that special drunk way, and wobbles over to me, I lock myself in the bathroom. Hashem Yishmoyreynee, yiddishe kinder, being romantic, in deh public!! Showing affection! I must stop this at once!

My father in law, who's been benching his bochur'l all this time - holding onto him as if he's a bottle of alchohol, -starts to feel 'shlecht'. By the time the bowl is around he's vomited all over the carpet, wall, himself and table. If I look, I can see all that in the vomit actually. Holding a towel over his face, he pours himself another drink.

Yoelish sees someone to the door, a beggar that didn't get very royal treatment, one that heard a little more than he should about 'farshtinkene rashooim'. "Dee bist meyn breeder, all yidden are brothers" we hear him say and he too, is out the door. Hands wide open he swallows fresh outdoor air. He zigzags on the road even though I am yelling, stomping, and going positively off my mind.

A few good men take him home, against his will, and he falls into a calming routine of snoring. After I break the fast and furious by some quite time, 'I blow my own horn' knowing that I passed the test. I had my share of hell for the year.

Leshana Habah....

A K'Purim V'Purim Tovah :) !


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

That's a Wrap!


Purim/Pesach season is coming up so I won't be around blogger much over the next few weeks.

Y'know of course that I've got a lot of work to do, in preparation of the Purim2007 Suda I'm hosting at my blogspot. Most of you wouldn't typically attend a mixed celebration, but with all the costumes available in the vicinity, phhh, no problem at all! I can already see 'em coming, hundreds of bed-sheet-covered partygoers dressed up as Anonymous.

Naturally, I am casting a chusid as Purim Rav. Only a chusid knows how to fir a tish properly. I am sure I can find someone who knows how to bring about a storm, to act as Gabi. This is blogworld, after all. The Jewish Drama headquarters. Nailprint is the official fingerprint.

When you arrive to the party, make yourself at home. Find your niche, take out the coffee or chips you brought along and get the music goin'! If you're new to this, start by checking if your spouse/parent/children are here. Go over to the Australian Yeshiva Bochur and accuse him of being your neighbor on Fosse Court. Nice going, pal.

There is a fervent discussion on the crisis of the dating scene, or the shidduchim expenses in the chussid's version - next to the buffet. A Yiddish speaking geek explains to a long-wigged pregnant woman what the problem here is. His black glasses cover his eyes that look into no where, and he doesn't seem frazzled with the combination of English grammergoofs. The Satmar baldies are groping at the bookshelves for a sefar to prove to the red-faced frummy that he's wrong. Aha!! See? It seems so natural to see the Williamsburg lady sit cheek-to-jowl with a clean-shaven suit from the other side of the ocean, both arguing a gemera. A 21 year old chalat boy from Mondroe UTA puts his nose in, and walks away waving his hand. What do these people know? Mishigooim. They should hear what the Bayrach Moshe said! Nearby, an Isreali snood rebbetzin sits down on the bench, adjusts her long gathered skirt and tells a long story on topic. One commenter mentions 'judgementalism' and an army of outcasts storm the place firing off curse words.

A few 'special' winks are shot across the room and said parties escape us early, o'er to email. Pretend you didn't see.

An especially tall woman with a hairspray-stricken short sheitle shleps herself over to join the catfight. Her babbes on her stockings are untied and the shtrimp piled up at her ankles to reveal unshaven legs. In a flat ballplayer's voice she comments coyly to the petite female: "You're really a @#@%$ man, babe. Everybody knows. Stop lying already."

One table is particularly packed. There's a narrator there that's obviously keeping all others entertained with his multi-lingual accounts. He sits relaxed back in his chair, wears a pair of black pupuch on his knee-length socks, and thumps his cigarette into the ash-tray. He inhales again, ever so slowly, while scratching his balding head with his big black kapel. He thumbs the knip of his beard back up and goes on. From language to language he flips with such a straight face, all eager chassidim high-five each other. A chassidista looks on, listens in, and laughs loudly as if she got the joke too. She's left with her hand hanging in the air when she also tries to slap hands with one of the listeners, a colone-wrapped intellect that speaks an echta flisigeh yiddish.

Sirens and awful shrieks suddenly wail from the direction of the Link Room. Seems a bearded rebel with sunglasses is tearing at an English-speaking cotton-candy-bearded rebelle, both trying to cut each other's throat. Sigh. Yeah, the discussion over evolution didn't go so well. There have been some casualties.

Although the party is mixed, we still know our boundaries, so dancing is not. Or not really. The chassidim jump the horah up and down like springs, the litvaks kick their feet left and right into the air, and the "frum" guy waltzes in the middle of the circle with the rabbi, then they dip. Poor rabbi, he wanted to do it with the gartle! One clueless jewish grandma in pants dances along with the entire rekida of men.

See? This place rocks! Tol' you it's not all talk.

I get up to the bima next to the gefilta-fish-smelling Rabbi. I propose a toast. Clink, clink. I begin to thank you profusely for visiting my blog, the fun I'm having, and then I spend the next two hours wining about how my community made me wear this and that and that and this. By the time everyone is snoring I break down and holler. I fan myself to stop the crying. But then I burst out in bawls all over again. Blame my community.

"Cheers, Lechaim!" (sniff, sniff) (waaa!) (snore) (comment) (compliment) (snore) (attack) (nicey-nice) (mussar) (Lechaim!!)

Quit dreaming!

There is no party and there will be no entertainment. I'm gonna be home filling my hamen tashen with jam, curling the ribbon, retelling the Leibel Veinshtuk version of Achashveryosh's party to the kids, and scaring my husband with the George Bush mask. I do so love yom tovim and will spend my time passing the spirit on to my next generation.

(In case I was gonna be missed, I think I just did away with that possibility.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dress De-Code

The sixty-watt bulb above our vanity mirror doesn’t do me justice. So I went out and bought a lamppost, dragged it all the way into my apartment and got all the mechanics up and running.



Nope. I still don’t see it.

I’m looking for my Jewish nose. I know I have it, for sure. In a world full of diversity people can single me out in a snap. And Yoelish, he’s got it too. You can just imagine how our children look.

When I go to a place that’s not dominated by Jews, I feel like I’m walking with a gallon lump in the middle of my face. I'm accutely aware of my nasal entirety. Like a family of us cartoon creatures. In shopping malls, amusement parks, hotels and especially the theater. I get stares.

Sometimes I get more than that. Like the talkative cab driver that quotes the New Testament in eight places, showing off his religious knowledge. Then there’s the conservative 50 year old woman with the china doll hair that pats me on the back, counts my children three times and starts talking about the war in Iraq as if I can fix it, due to my great connection with God.

There are those from out of town that sigh loudly, and wonder when orange/maroon hair stopped being cool enough. They look at the action on my head, then the line running along my stockings, over to my boy's dangling facial thingies. Then they assume my tongue is pierced .

Some people walk quickly, so to prevent being involved in my suicide explosion. They grab what they can and get out of my way. They keep looking back with menacing glances and then quickly put in a phone call to the FBI.

I like the fellow Jews that don’t wear their bris on their face. They sound like your average goy (bald in front, pony in back) and suddenly come up to you with a perish on the parsha. What do you want of me? Did they just announce that I’m a Rabbi, available and looking?

It’s not good to compare me to the Amish. I suffer from a little envy. We got the beard AND the side-curls (and then some more) but we don’t get a chocolate factory to go with our little town. I betchya the Hershey's meant us. Just look at the name. And imagine all the tourism we could have! I'd be a sensation just by 'riding my buggy' to the 'market' wearing my 'bonnet'.

One particular instance ticked me off. It was a long time ago, when my husband and I stayed at some all-inclusive hotel in the Sunshine State. We were lounging around at the bar nightime when a man came up to me and informed me that there will be an adult performance.

“Okay” I said and sought out another non-broken pretzel from my Schwartz bag. C-u-runch.

The guy just stood there, hovering.

I love those tall chairs next to the counter and silly football games. Yoelish and I mock these players as if we’re wiser than the world. I was watching the HomeDepot commercial for the eighth time by running after the words on the screen with my mouth. That freckled guy started clearing his throat.

“Ahem. Ahem. Ma’am. I said there will be a show for, for, for adults. It’ll be like, a little offensive.”

“Good, okay.” I repeated absentmindedly.

“Ma’am. I’m not sure if you understand. They make fun of ---“ his hands tuned in a washmachine cycle “sexnstuff”.

I smiled up to that fidgety thin fella. “I can handle it Sir.”

“Are you sure, are you sure?”

The vein on my forehead popped out.

“I’ll get a nose job, okay! Just leave me alone!”