Pour ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

So, listen up, kidlets, here’s my Purim shpiel:

Once upon a time in a borough called Shushan, there was this pervy king named Ahasuerus who wanted his queen, Vashti, to dance naked for him and all his gross friends. Vashti did right by her momma, and was all, “I don’t think so — I was not raised on the pole, thank you” so King Ass “deposed” her. Maybe that means he killed her, maybe he sent her back to her mom, we don’t know. But we do know that he went looking for a new queen, and found a lady so pretty he didn’t even care that she was from the other side of the camel’s tracks.

This lady, Esther, was a nice Jewish girl and didn’t just have smokin’ looks, she had smarts, too. She got her uncle Mordecai are good job at the palace after he foiled an attempt to kill the king, but Mordecai pissed off one of the kingdom’s most important advisors, a very bad man named Haman who had silly taste in hatwear. Haman decided to punish Mordecai by devising a plan to wipe all the Jews off the map of Persia, which totally freaked everyone out — except Esther. She stayed calm and informed her husband that if he listened to this douchebag, she’d have to hang at the gallows, too. The king rightly deduced that evil politicians are far easier to replace than wives who will put up with his bullsh*t, so he ordered Haman to be hanged in the very noose meant for Mordecai.

And then all the Jews lived happily ever after, or until the next pogrom. (What, you’re looking for something a little more educational? Then go here. Or here. But not here.)

Now we party. ‘Cause even though this megillah isn’t in the Torah and doesn’t mention any Divine influences, we are obligated by the rabbis as good (I mean, bad, BAD!) Jews to “drink until we do not know the difference between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai.'” There you have it — a Talmudic edict to get sh*tfaced. (I know my friend Uber Shiksa Chick is gonna go hogwild on this.)

Anyone who’s witnessed El Yenta Man and I dressed as Queen Vashti and Bad Haman (respectively) handing a flask back and forth over the synagogue pews know that the Yenta household takes Purim very seriously. The Wild Turkey has already been poured to bring to Sunday morning services, but I assure the parents of my Shalom Schoolers that I will not be breaking it out until I safely return your children to you. After that, I take no responsibility for my actions and may have to be peeled off the bima while performing a blistering rap that combines the lyrics of Lady Gaga and “Shalom Aleichem.”

Other Purim traditions involve delivering mishloach manot (bags of treats similar to Easter baskets except Jews hate pastels) and performing practical jokes. Do you think egging my in-laws’ house could count as both?

Oh, and you know I can’t let a Purim pass without reposting Shabot6000‘s perfectly brilliant Purim parody:

Mazel Tov!

Oh yes, it is time to announce the lucky winner of the first annual Oh Nuts/Yo, Yenta! Superdelish Purim Giveaway!

The winning entry was chosen by a highly specific method involving asking my 6 year-old to pick a number between 1 and 50 and multiplying it by the square root of the amount of hamantaschen I ate last night while watching “American Idol.”

Yum yum dee dum….and the winner is…

Mindy Winn!

She’s won a $30 gift certificate to the Oh Nuts online store, where she’ll stock up on her favorite choco-delights for Purim, Passover and occasional PMS.

Congratulations to Mindy and thank you to all who entered!

Nut Winner Announced Tomorrow!

Have you entered the Oh Nuts/Yo, Yenta! Superdelish Purim Giveaway yet??

DO IT and you have a chance to win $30 to spend at OhNuts.com, which means a nice fat supply of some major SNACKS. Just looking at the pictures makes me drool.

So all you have to do is follow the directions HERE, but most important, LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in the comments section (you wouldn’t believe how many people have not done that. Even if you’ve already entered, maybe you should go back and check. Seriously. Not to a noodge, but you should just make sure.)

Winner announced tomorrow at 5pm EST!

Quacking the Code

Okay, look, I admit I’m a conspiracy geek. I’m the person who would not be surprised one bit if some type of archaeological evidence surfaced proving that a lost tribe of Israel somehow wandered over to what is now Southern Ohio around 500 C.E. I was completely obsessed with Area 51 in college (such a shame one couldn’t major in government dissidence back then.) I look at ancient alien archaeology and crop circle photos the way your creepy neighbor looks at porn. I still totally believe Anita Hill. (Please do not send your 9/11 craziness to me because I’ve already heard it all, m’kay?)

So if anyone’s going to believe in Bible Codes, it’s me, right? Finding secret messages in the Torah embedded there by aliens sounds like something that would keep me up nights with a flashlight, a siddur and Art Bell on the radio. I mean, it’s been scientifically vetted, and actual rabbis teach the theory. Sure, it’s to evangelical Apocalypse mongers what the Celestine Prophecy was to flaky New Age whackdoodles, but gosh, everyone needs something to believe in. Counting letters in the Pentateuch to predict earthquakes isn’t nearly as weird as reading goat entrails or whatever.

Except I picked up Michael Drosnin’s bestselling book the other day on the bargain table at Barnes & Noble and I have to say I think I could probably make the same connections if I smoked some weed and got down with my daughter’s Hello Kitty wordfind. I may be getting cynical in my old age, though I am always open to listening to your conspiracy rants in the comments section.

However, I must should out a big, wet todah raba to reader Darren for tipping me off to ShalomStacy’s blog, who shows there are still many Jewish mysteries to be explained. For instance, there is clearly a secret mission being carried out via all Mac-to-Microsoft software icons to subliminally teach basic Hebrew to those who come in contact with its interface. How else to explain THIS?

Love Nuts?

Clearly you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. But some taste better than others, especially when dipped in chocolate. Or covered in toffee and powdered sugar. Or so help me, enrobed in jewel-like candy shell that melts on the tongue like butter from heaven.

The very crunchy, fun people at OhNuts must be as meshuggeneh than I am, because they’re giving away at $30 gift certificate to one lucky Yo, Yenta! reader in honor of the holiday of pranks, candy and silliness knows as Purim. (Yo, locals — see you at the JEA carnival on Sunday!)

So my hungry friends, $30 is a lotta delish for you and your family. You can enter this contest in three, easy ways, and you don’t even have to spell “megillah”:

#1: Go to the Oh Nuts Purim Basket Gift page. Pick out the tasty item that makes you salivate the most. Come back to THIS POST on Yo, Yenta! and leave a comment in the comment section with the name and the URL of said tasty item. Got that? Pick it, tell me about it here. (Mine, of course, are the Purim Chocolate Wine Bottles, because incorporating two vices in one mouthful is brilliant.)

#2: Go to the Oh Nuts Facebook Page and become a fan. Post on the wall your tasty item, the URL and be sure to tell them Yo, Yenta! sent you!

#3: Follow @ohnuts on Twitter and tweet daily, “Win a Purim Basket from http://bit.ly/aWXLzp Follow @ohnuts RT to Enter Daily. Oh, and I worship yoyenta.com!”

Please enter via #1, then shout about it using #2 and #3. Loudest and proudest wins the sugary salty buzz of their dreams!

Cross, Word.

Still have time to kill between reading Yo, Yenta! and playing Farmville on Facebook? Then you absolutely must play Ethan Friedman’s Jewish crossword puzzle for Tablet. According to the press release about the word challenge, “Friedman makes the connection of how Jewish culture leads to the type of thinking needed to successfully complete such puzzles.”

In terms of the difficulty scale set by the almighty New York Times, it’s got to be a Monday or a Tuesday because I haven’t yet stamped my foot or thrown my laptop against the wall in frustration. But if I don’t finish by sundown I will revisit the suspicion that I do not, in fact, harbor the intelligence of my ancestors and was adopted.

Friedman is a protegé of NYT crossword macher Will Shortz and created this one in honor of this weekend’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament taking place in Brooklyn — I bet if my mother-in-law still had all her wits, she could kick some tuchus there.

Kish My Ash

Apologies for the slow posting, folksies — there have been many distractions from this so-called Jewish life as of late.

First off, Savannah’s only Jewish Irish dancer performed at this weekend’s Irish Festival, a glorious three-day cultural extravaganza of green that will only be outshone by next month’s whisky-soaked ginormous homage to St. Patrick. Our Yenta Girl kicked up her heels like a real little leprechaun, and her papa and I were overcome with pride (and perhaps a few pints of Guinness.) Still, we refused her requests to buy her a Celtic cross for the door of her room.

And then there was Valentine’s Day, another culty obsession with a saint that’s become an excuse — nay, an obligation — to indulge. I remember giving out little cards to classmates when I was when in school and maybe getting a heart-shaped cookie and some apple juice, but these days it’s morphed into a terrifying sugar free-for-all. I paid a visit to the children’s school the Friday afternoon prior and it was like ADHD Shutter Island over there. Kids with frosting-smeared mouths and chocolate-smudged fingers were running through the halls maniacally laughing and rocking by themselves in the corners; I had to run mine around the park for an hour before the buzz died down enough to get them into the car. Still, it was kind of cute. El Yenta Boy’s teacher had the kids draw up some “love and peace squares” on fabric in the vein of Tibetan prayer flags, which look precious tied together and draped across the classroom even if one or two still have a lollipop stuck to them. I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate a related project into my Shalom School curriculum — Purim prayer flags? Maybe.

It’s hard to be this close to New Orleans and not get swept up in Mardi Gras, so the weekend was full of parades and people in purple and yellow and green harlequin outfits whooping it up before they’re supposed to behave themselves for six weeks for fear of the Easter Bunny’s wrath. I’ve never had much of an urge to experience a true Who Dat, New Orleans-style Fat Tuesday because sheesh, I’m Jewish, right? I mean, it’s the crazy celebration before all the Catholics get serious about Jesus’ demise, which some still enjoy blaming on the Jews. Seems like a good time to take a vacation to Miami or something, which is just what New Orleans’ Jews used to do. But Tablet published Justin Vogt’s interesting article on the “Krewe du Jieux,” a Mardi Gras parade community that’s either a self-hating ritual full of disturbing clichés or a iconoclastic, stereotype-smashing reclamation. Or both. I still haven’t made up my mind. I don’t know — how do you feel about drunken revelers cheering on a French Quarter rendition of the “running of the Jieuxs”?

Which brings us to today, Ash Wednesday, the solemn acceptance of a smudge on the head to signify the countdown to Easter. I have been known to be obnoxiously ignorant of the practice, and even though I’ve come a long way, it’s better for everyone that I don’t leave the house today so I won’t be tempted try to chase people with a nice clean paper towel. And I know y’all think I bend reality into pretzels to confirm my suspicion that everyone is Jewish, but according to this article from the Phillipines, the ritual of spreading ashy shmutz on one’s forehead is actually borrowed from Judaism. Frum friends: Do we do that before or after we swing the chickens?

So there you have it, the Yenta’s foray into forbidden territory, which may not be over as I have an unholy fascination with Peeps. I might be a bad Jew, but I take consolation in that I’d undoubtedly be a worse Catholic.

Emerging From the Dark Ages

Richmond Hill is a little town north of Savannah that’s nice enough, I suppose. From my few visits, it seems like your typically white, churchy Southern enclave where people move to get away from the crime and bad schools in the city. All I really know about it is that there are lots of golf courses and that rock star Gregg Allman lives there.

Henry Ford receiving the Nazi Cross in 1939

Oh, and I’ve seen the sign on the way in that says “Richmond Hill: A Henry Ford City” and yes, it gives me the creeps. But I figure if people want to name their town after a rabid anti-Semite that‘s their business, and I simply take mine elsewhere — I’ve got enough problems. Henry Ford spent a lot of time in coastal Georgia and helped develop the economy back when jobs were scarce, and I’m not going to pick a fight trying to convince this particular population of people that his deep-seated hatred for Jews is a valid reason to revoke his hero status.

But Richmond Hill is Dick Kent’s neighborhood, and the Jewish, West Point-educated former Marine has been campaigning for years to remove Ford’s name from the sign. He hasn’t had much success in rallying city council members to his cause, even though his point is sound. “To call Richmond Hill a ‘Henry Ford City’ implies endorsement from the city government of a man who had a very dark side to his personal history,” he told the local press this week.

Kent’s ten years of polite relentlessness has paid off: Both the Savannah Morning News and the Bryant County News ran stories this week about how Richmond Hill mayor Harold Fowler is “entertaining the notion to come up with a slogan that is acceptable to all the citizens” of his town. Not that it means Fowler will be handing Kent the sledgehammer, but if you know anything about local Georgia politics, this is a tremendous step forward.

What surprised the snot out of me was SMN editor Tom Barton’s op-ed lauding Kent’s position and lambasting Richmond Hill’s backasswardness by still hanging on to the idea that having Henry Ford on its sign is a good and decent thing.

“A Henry Ford City”? What does that mean? If you know U.S. history, it could appear to mean, “No Jews or dogs allowed.”

Not that I don’t feel the same way, but it’s just weird to agree with the newspaper for once.

Hot Boy Band Alert, Nice Jewish Edition

Jewish tweens are a’squealing over Moshiach Times Band, a kepa-and-denim-rocking quartet of kids who are using the years between their bar mitzvahs and yeshiva to kick out some punk-flavored religious jams. Thanks to Heeb for posting this kosher answer to the “Disney-spawned Christ-humpers,” and I’d like to think I would have titled this post “The Jewnas Brothers” if JDub Records hadn’t thought of it already.

Here’s Tzdaki (lead) , Elijah (drums), Navi (guitar) and Jesse (bass) with “One Mitzvah At At Time”:

I don’t know whether to bang my head or daven. Instead of teeny little bras, do their fans throw snoods?

And The AfroHeeb Beat Goes On…

A coupla months back I shared the magic of Fool’s Gold, a band out of L.A. that mixes up Hebrew lyrics and complex tribal syncopation. For years I thought I was all alone out here in my love for African high-life music and the ba-dunka-thunk of the dundun, but according to Mordecai Shinefield in today’s Forward, American-Jewish-African-pop music is practically its own freakin’ GENRE now. SWEET.

The article mentions Fool’s Gold as well as a jazz reed blower Jacques Schwarz-Bart and the crazy cool Afro-Semitic Experience (how can you not love a song about a torah afloat in a leaky boat?), but I was completely surprised to see hep-to-the-moment band Vampire Weekend in there. Turns out lead singer Ezra Koenig is an Upper West Side brutha, and sees the Jewish-African connection as perfectly obvious:

“Growing up Jewish, you are presented with three images of your people. Desert nomads building pyramids. Eastern-European shtetl-dwellers with big beards. American liberals who eat Chinese food all the time. Now do you see where I’m coming from?”

I think so: Hipster Jews are having a collective identity crisis, and that’s a good thing for people who like to dance.

Rock your Shabbos with Vampire Weekend’s new album, which debuted at #1 in the UK last month.