Harsh Tales of the Wandering Jew

10 May

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in shul on Shabbos at around 10:45, smelling the cholent, listening to the Rabbi’s beautiful drasha, thinking shut the fuck up already shut the fuck up shut the fuck up shut the fuck up, as I always do, when my neighbor poked me in the ribs. I’d gotten distracted and apparently started speaking out loud. That was going to be hard to face up to, so I decided to just make the difficult decision and never talk to anyone in that shul ever again.

Of course, this left me without a place to go on Shabbos mornings- not to mention losing the remainder of my $350 membership. Well, it was tzedakah after all, so I figured I’d just steal a couple of dollars from the pushka until about next Sukkos to be even.

Back to my shul problem, though. The next week I decided to try out the shtiebel a few blocks down. I’d been there a few times for simchos, and the cholent – a homemade version by the Rebbetzin- was very good. Oddly, it tasted a bit like Gold Bond, but in a good way. Anyhow, I sat through a cramped, hot davening, but the smell of the cholent did not disappoint. The Rav did not speak before Musaf, which gave major points for the place, and I sat down to the decked-out kiddush waiting for some of that delicious cholent heaped up in huge clear bowls all along the table. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. The Rabbi had tricked us! He didn’t intend to speak during kiddush, but before it, keeping us prisoner to his droning on, before we were allowed to eat.

I was outraged, and covertly poured some cholent into a bowl, grabbed some stella dora cookies, and slipped out the back. And damn, that cholent was as good as I remembered it. Better even, if you can believe it. There was an extra spice in there that week besides the Gold Bond. Was it Victory?

That was last week. This week, I decided to try the Young Israel 20 minutes away. I’d never gone there, because it was modern, and started at the brazenly modernishe hour of 8:00, but frankly, I was running out of options.

As soon as I got there at Chamishi, I felt something was wrong. No, it wasn’t the dragged out singing of Hodo al eretz v’shamaim, or the stained glass mechitzah, or even the boring speech- which I could swear had the word ‘dikduk’ in it. No, I was ready for that. It was something deeper, some unconscious, visceral fear. But I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then came the kiddush, and I knew instantly. There was no smell of cholent. It was a cold kiddush! Plus, the Rabbi had started to speak again! Well, “Fuck this!” I said out loud, and stormed out. What can I tell you? Life is hard for the Wandering Jew.

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