Tag Archives: cholent

Cholent Banned!

12 Jul

Thursday night cholent has officially been banned in Israel. To find out why, I sat down with one of the leading proponents of the ban, Rabbi Nachum Kleinerhoisen.

Me: Rabbi Kleinerhoisen, good to have you here. So glad you fly all this way.

RK: For Yeshivaforum? Anytime.

Me: Wow, thank you. So first of all, what’s the reason for this ban? Many people in America are grumbling about the seemingly draconian ban on something so harmless.

RK: Ok, let’s assume that it is ‘harmless’. And let’s assume that ‘draconian’ means ‘bad’. Still, there is the issue of the tremendous bittul torah taking place. Thousands of hours that could have been spent learning are spent eating and schmoozing.

Me: I hear where your coming from. But I think you aren’t really empathizing with your talmidim. They spend the whole week learning, day and night, with no social outlet at all.

RK: Yeshiva’s not a social outlet? You’re around guys your own age the whole day. What could be better?

Me: Ok, that’s true. What I mean is it’s suffocating. You’re 22 years old, and you have to follow a schedule like you’re still a kid in grade school. Where’s the room for developing yourself as an individual? Where’s the sense of control over your own life?

RK: Being an individual! Hahaha! That’s a good one. You think a guy’s in a yeshiva in Israel to be an individual? You have your whole life mapped out for you by your social circle. From the Yeshiva you attend, to the girl you marry, and you’re worried about taking away the mass cholent gathering on Thursday? Let me tell you something. There’s nothing individual about your entire trip to Israel. The tiyulim you go on because all your other geshmak friends went on. The ‘crazy’ people you eat at. The early cholent eating. All socially pre-programmed activities. Don’t bullshit me Itchemeyer.

Me: Never heard you curse before.

RK: Yeah, sorry. It was a long flight, and the stewardesses were extra-Israeli.

Me: Ok, that was pretty wild, but I think you’re clouding the issue here. 99% of what we do is preprogrammed, but it depends who’s doing it. Here, the bochurim are obviously making something for themselves that’s totally innocuous and kosher, and the Yeshiva is trying to force itself into every crevice of the boys’ lives. The boys obviously need an outlet, right? That’s why cholent’s so popular. I think it’s short-sighted to shut this down when there are so many other bad vices just waiting to be picked up.

RK: And I think that you’re shortsighted. The point of yeshiva is to learn. Our job, as Mashgichim and Rebbeim is to facilitate this. That’s why we foster an intense atmosphere of concentrated learning. Nothing should be more important to the boy than learning as much as they can to be the best learner in the Yeshiva- if not the whole Yerushalaim. If the bochurim are feeling free to create these grass-roots ‘self-expression’ programs as you’d like to call it, then obviously we aren’t doing our job. So maybe we need to cut down on their free time. Maybe we need to ban the cholent after 10:30. It’s all part of a bigger picture here.

Me: You know, I hear that some bochurim are taking a long time in the John to break free of Yeshiva control. Some are probably reading in there too. And some guys are buying 100’s cigarettes so they can have longer smoking breaks. Maybe you should crack down on that too.

RK: Good idea. Maybe we should.

Me: So just so we’re clear: You don’t see anything wrong with this social engineering situation at all, right? No possible bad outcomes for anybody involved?

RK: Hey, life has a bad outcome for everybody involved. And thanks for the loaded question.

Me: Sorry. So you’re headed back now?

RK: Heeeells no. That place is crazy. I’m gonna go get something at Subsational and catch a movie. Maybe Bad Teacher. Yeah, I’m not going back till after my nephew’s wedding. And he’s in high school! No, Just kidding. Good to schmooze Itchie, see you around.

Me: Yeah, uh, you too.

Conversations With Jewish Hippies

24 Jun

(Cross-posted on Frumsatire)

How come whenever I eat food at a kiddush, I invariably get a lecture from one of my Jewish hippy friends? As much as I try to steer the conversation to something else, these helpful folks continue trying to save me. Ever have one of these?

“Hey M-, Shabbat shalom. I noticed you’re eating a lot of cholent. You know, that’s carcinogenic.

“Hey- what? Cholent?”

“Yeah. It has trans fats and saturated fats all cooking together to give you cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure-”

“Please. Stop. Don’t tell me this while I’m eating. I don’t have a history of any of those things in my family. And I can always take Lipitor when the time comes.”

“Drugs? You’ll shoot yourself full of those chemicals that Big Pharma is stuffing down our throats? Just eat healthy and you won’t need to. You know for thousands of years people didn’t need drugs. All of a sudden, we’re all taking drugs and getting shot full of vaccinations and we have all these new problems.”

“What are you even talking about? Nobody’s stuffing anything down my throat. And didn’t you do drugs for a while when you were a witch? Never mind- if I’m sick, I go to a doctor, do what he says and get better.”

“I’m not a witch anymore. And those drugs were natural. Anyhow- yeah, now you’re getting better, but in the long run, you’re making yourself sicker. How come we haven’t heard of Autism until recently? Why are we hearing about people getting cancer only recently?”

“Maybe because you don’t know any history. Ever hear of rampant childhood illnesses? No? That’s because evil Big Science took care of that. The plague? Pneumonia?”

“It’s not good to shoot yourself full of anti-biotics when you get a cold. You create super-diseases that can take over the world. Then scientists have to create super-drugs. Did you know that?”

“So what should I do?”

“Let your body take care of it. You can drink wheatgrass and Vitamin C juice to help. Nature can deal with natural illnesses. Your body is the most powerful cancer-fighting machine around.”

“I can’t believe you just said that. You know what, when the civilized world ends in a nuclear explosion and there are no more scientists around I’ll stop taking drugs and eating cholent. Of course, then I’ll be eating rats I catch in a repurposed toaster oven which probably isn’t very healthy either.”

Brie? No thanks, I’ll take some Jewish food

19 May

Read this post here:  Brie? No Thanks…

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.