The Batsh*t Logic of a Southern Halloween

Oh fer froop’s sake: Since October 31 falls on a Sunday this year, the City of Savannah has taken it upon itself to change Halloween to Saturday, apparently to accommodate the complaints of a few idiots who want to have their religion and their candy, too.

Chatham County Commissioner (I’m almost positive this isn’t even a real job) Pete Liakakis said the reason for endorsing this completely farkakte move is meant to “address the concerns some parents had about celebrating Halloween on their day of worship.”

Hmm. I can’t pretend to know that much about churchgoin’, but doesn’t the worship usually wrap up around noon on Sundays in time for a nice lunch? And if you’re seriously that into the hypocrisy that’s hijacked Christianity, shouldn’t you be at home praying for all the gay people and Democrats and the rest of us sinners no matter what day of the week it is?

Because Savannah is city that prides itself on providing an equal opportunity for absurdity for all its citizens, the Savannah Morning News article included this unhelpful tidbit:

Acknowledging the members of Chatham’s Jewish community, Mayor Otis Johnson noted their Saturday Sabbath ends at sunset, which allows for trick-or-treating that night.

Mayor Johnson, it’s very nice that you would consider the small number of observant Savannah Jewish families that this would affect, but I would think from your education at Brandeis University you would have concluded that any Jew who wouldn’t trick-or-treat on the Sabbath wouldn’t trick-or-treat AT ALL.

Yes, according to his Facebook page, Mayor Otis Johnson attended Brandeis University. Still wrapping my mind around that one.

Say, maybe should Christmas should be changed to Dec. 24 because the 25th is the Jewish Sabbath and I’m sure that I can find a way how that is somehow inconvenient. I think I’ll invite Mayor Johnson over for gribenes chopped liver to discuss.

On a related note, The Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival has stubbornly stuck to its October 31 commitment to taking over Forsyth Park with egg creams, reubens, kugel, matzah ball soup and every other Jewishy treat you can imagine–just don’t ask the bubbies to do a trick or you might get slapped.

UPDATE: The New York Times picked up this story. Fan-freakin’-tastic.

Surprise Accomplished

Last post I had to get all furtive about why I’ve been a slow Yenta because there was a VERY BIG SECRET at stake. You should know by now that beguilement is NOT my strong suit (unlike loquaciousness, kvetching and tailored linen in a size 6, which ARE my strong suits) and it was terribly difficult for me not to ruin everything.

See, my dad, also known here as Dr. Skip, was invited to San Francisco to accept the Humanitarian of the Year award from the American Osteopathic Association for his volunteer surgical work in Tanzania for the past four summers. (What, you need background information you say? Read one of my many posts on the subject. Even better, especially if you enjoy detailed descriptions of leprosy and goiters, is Dr. Skip’s blog.)

Humanitarian of the Year—kind of a big deal. So my mother thoughtfully decided that Dr. Skip should be surrounded by his entire family while accepting this award. Because she is a huge fan of suspense and drama, my mother also decided that the presence of me, El Yenta Man, the Yenta children, my Brother the Doctor and his Fabulous Flower-Named French Girlfriend should remain unknown to the Humanitarian of the Year until the last possible moment, so as to maximize the excitement of the occasion.

Humanitarian of the Year and some dwarf we found on the Embarcadero

This plan was hatched back almost six months ago. That equals approximately a few hundred phone calls, emails and texts to my father in which I made NO MENTION of the fact that I would be seeing him in San Francisco in October. This was more challenging for me than it was for the children, who seemed to revel in the conspiracy and would say wistfully on the phone “I miss you SOOO much, Grandpa…I wish we could see you SOOOON. It’s no FAIR we won’t see you until DECEMBER…”

I couldn’t even update my Facebook page to let the West Coast peeps we’d be in town because even though Dad flicks around the social media neighborhoods about as often as El Yenta Man changes the toilet paper roll, he might’ve checked his FB page at the precise moment I made a reference to looking forward to Shabbos dinner in the redwoods, and then my mother would’ve written me out of the will. Counting down the last few weeks I pretty much had to stop speaking to him altogether because keeping the secret devolved my conversational skills into a series of excited cheeps.

Somehow, we all managed to keep our mouths shut and our electronic devices innocent and shlepped across the country last week. We spent a few days in our beloved town of Fairfax before heading to the city, where my mother had orchestrated the MOMENT at the lovely Waterfront restaurant on the Embarcadero. We gathered and turned to face him en masse as he walked up to the bar. Boy, was he surprised. And fortunately, did not have a heart attack. (I personally do not enjoy surprises like this, so if I ever win Best Jewish Mother Blogger in the Whole Wide World, please keep that in mind, Mom.)

We attended the award ceremony the next day, where Dr. Skip accepted a nice fat plaque in a roomful of his peers, successors and yes, his whole family. Unfortunately, my iPhone snaps look terrible but I’ll see if Bro the Doc caught some better ones. He kept his speech short and sweet, telling the other doctors that after a long career, they absolutely deserve a retirement of golf and leisure, but if they missed the adrenaline rush of caring for patients, there are a whole heck of a lot of organizations who’d be glad to accommodate them.

Serious kvells. How many kids and grandkids get to see the family patriarch recognized for service? Totally worth the jet lag.

Speaking of jet lag, Dr. Skip says he’ll be returning to Sumbawunga next summer, right on schedule. I don’t know how he and my mom find the energy to travel like they do—Las Vegas last week, San Francisco over the weekend—Crikey, just driving to Tybee for the weekend stresses me out, and I’ll probably be recovering from this cross country whirlwind for weeks.

And get this: Right before we all said our good-byes, Dad causally mentioned that he’ll be heading out this weekend for Washington, DC of Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and take photos for the Phoenix Jewish News!

This you call retirement, Dad? Maybe you’re not just a humanitarian but possibly part robot?

Oh and by the way: GO GIANTS!

T-Shirt of the Week: Jersey Shore Edition

I’ve been digging through Cafepress and other interwebby places searching for decent Jewy t-shirts for over six years now, and I promise you, I’ve seen ’em all. but for you dahlinks, I post only the best.

Most of them are painfully silly (if I come across “Don’t Worry, Be Jewish” one more time I’ma gonna gag) and occasionally downright offensive, but once in a great while I find a jewel of a Jewish schmata that gives me a good chuckle, even stirring an urge to point and click myself to PayPal to purchase it.

Today is our lucky day, friends.

It’s kind of misnomer to call it a “T-Shirt of the Week” since this logo is more apropos for a trucker hat and it might well be three months before I find another worthy candidate for the category:

Just in case you can’t read that, it says: “I hope you Jewish, ’cause you Israeli hot!”

Heheheheh. Cheaply punny, yet you laughed, didn’t you?

Get it from

Also, posting will be slow for the next lil’ bit for reasons I cannot relay at this time but promise to fill you in on later.

Boogie In The Tree of Life

I remain fascinated with the bridge between hip hop music and Orthodox Judaism. As disparate as they should be, Torah and tefillin on one hand and malt liquor and boobie shaking on the other, the two still manage to meet and hold strong–and it’s not all about Matisyahu, m’kay?

Six years later, Yo-Natan’s Hip Hop Shabbat CD is still on permanent rotation in the Yenta house. EtanG and Y-Love also spin Hebrew-inflected rhymes on my iPod, with the recent additions of tsitsit-swinging Nosson Zand of course, my local homeboy Reuben Formey and his soul-strumming Prodezra Beats to the playlist.

Here’s “Tree of Life,” a new collaboration of Prodezra Beats and Nosson Zand that’s been winding its way around. It’s all very kosher, but IHMO it could definitely inspire mixed dancing:

Is the Sh’Ma the New Universal Prayer?

El Yenta Man and I celebrated twelve years of marriage on Sunday, and because we’re kind of weird, rather than throw down for a spendy dinner and champagne, we elected for snacks at Parker’s Market then coffee at the Sentient Bean, where Dan Merchant’s documentary Lord Save Us From Your Followers was showing in honor of World Homeless Day.

Maybe that doesn’t sound terribly romantic, but we did make out for a few minutes in the minivan.

The film itself was interesting–the premise is that Merchant, a Christian, attempts to address America’s “culture wars” by traversing the country wearing a suit of religiously-themed bumper stickers and interviewing folks about their views. He’s honest, fairly objective and downright apologetic for other Christians who have perverted Jesus’ message of “love one another” into their own bloated political agendas, and though I didn’t agree with everything Merchant was selling, it was enlightening to hear a reasonable voice touting the idea that freedom of religion does not actually mean the founders of the Constitution intended this to be a Christian country. The Conservatives Vs. The Media Elite Trivia Challenge was entertaining–though it was no real surprise that the liberals were far more educated about the conservative viewpoint than vice versa.

Senator Al Franken makes a few appearances, notably to say that he is still very much opposed to prayer in schools, but if there had to be one prayer that was acceptable to everyone (except the athiests and the Hindus and many others, which is WHY there shouldn’t be prayer in schools, hello) it would be the Sh’ma: The Lord is Our God, the Lord Is One.

Of course, Franken is Jewish, so that makes sense. The Sh’ma is a nice, general prayer that no monothiest could argue with, right?

Well, whaddya know, it’s even catching on with the non-Jews: Rabbi Jason Miller reported last week on his blog that cotton candy crooner Justin Bieber recites the Sh’ma before he goes onstage for a show. Here’s a ten-second shot of the Swoop-haired One, with Jayden Smith and Usher, in a prayer circle and ensuing high five slapfest:

Special. But when we lay down and when we rise up is plenty–pray at home, pray at shul, pray before you go dance like a bunny in front of ten thousand screaming 12 year-old girls, but even if the Sh’ma were said at public school, it would be still be unconstitutional, and therefore, wrong.

Milestones to Muse On

Yenta Boy posted this as his Facebook update recently: “So…life.”

Those two words and the ellipses radiate a weariness that seems rather precocious for a 10 year-old, nu?

Though I do remember being 10, wondering when I could move out and have my own apartment so I could stay up as late as I wanted and read things like Judy Blume’s Wifey (I grew past Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret pretty quick.) I think my mother would agree that I was something like a cross between a prepubscent female Woody Allen and Winona Ryder’s character in Beetlejuice.

But today, I am THIRTY-NINE, and I am happy to report I have gotten less cynical as I’ve aged. Mostly because being squeezed through the portal of motherhood and growing up my precious babies thus far has convinced me that life, even with its constant maintenance (why DON’T bathrooms clean themselves?), occasional severe f*cked-uptedness (such as the red toxic slurry that exploded from an aluminum factory in Hungary yesterday), and insistence on going in directions not conducive to my immediate gratification (Publix stopped carrying Gardenburgers and now I must schlep to Kroger) is just so darn amazing. Each birthday, a gift. For reals.

Since it’s Thursday, of course I’m celebrating with my Home Yentas at the JEA Senior lunch. My lovely younger friends wanted to take me somewhere fancy, but it’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen all my Jewish bubbies because of the fall’s chag-a-week cockamaminess, and let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger. And my dearest mother-in-law, picking up speed on this downward dementia slope, won’t be able to make it to these lunches much longer. So, chicken and overcooked vegetables it is. Yo, Marcia Silverman–if you read this before noon, can a sister get some Texas Pete’s on her birthday?

Anyway. So…life. Maybe what Yenta Boy is beginning to intuit on a small level is that with life, comes death. Always. No matter how good, talented, sneaky, brilliant, kind, observant or deluded we are. It’s a fact. Look it up.

So I’d like to take a minute to honor a couple of important Jews who recently passed to the great deli in the sky:

Eddie Fisher, who I had an aural childhood crush on because my mother played 50’s tunes all the time, died September 22 of complications from a broken hip. He was 82. Though my crush was quickly abandoned after the double-whammy of reading Elizabeth Taylor’s biography and discovering Shaun Cassidy, I still felt a little pang.

And this week, Tony Curtis, another fleeting object of my preteen swoon after my dad showed Some Like It Hot at my eighth birthday party on this fancy new contraption called a VCR, suffered a fatal heart attack.

I had the honor of interviewing Mr. Curtis for my first newspaper job in Marin County, which I’d love to link you to but this was back before every single printed thing got immortalized on the interweb tubes. He was a silver fox in a smoking jacket, twinkly-eyed and witty, sweet to his lovely wife Jill Vandenberg (I remember that she was wearing a white one-button blazer–with nothing underneath–it was an impressive rack) and charmed that I had seen his old movies and could turn a Yiddish phrase.

May these two men rest in peace, their accomplishments live on and their flaws forgotten.

And may those who are wise beyond their years learn to slow down and appreciate each day.

So…life. At 39, I don’t feel particularly old (unless someone mentions Justin Bieber) but I know too much (and have the left hip of a 70 year-old) too feel young. I own jeggings, but know full well I should not wear them without a tunic that covers my tush. I can stay up as late as I want, but I choose to snuggle down by 10 so I can get to yoga by 6. It’s a blessed place to be.

I dedicate this post to my son, whose brain is still too big for his britches: L’Chaim, little dude, L’Chaim!

All I Know Is That This Made Me Hungry

I’m sure there’s a lot to say about douchey Rick Sanchez and his “Jon Stewart is a bigot and Jews run the media” nonsense, but the guy’s already been fired. And frankly, nothing I could write here could top our lil’ Jon’s wicked smart and surprisingly compassionate response.

Instead, let’s check out the Jewish stereotypes in the short film “A Reuben By Any Other Name”:

Forget Rick Sanchez–if we’re going to decide that a Reuben isn’t Jewish because it’s not kosher, we have bigger problems.

Thanks to Cathy Skidmore-Hess for the link!