Happy Purim

  

Purim is a silly holiday.

 It’s a deeply spiritually meaningful Jewish holiday, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a holiday whose observance involves a lot of being silly. For example, we have Purim Torah, a sort of high level satirical joking. (Or sometimes not really so high level.) Then there are Purim costumes, which in some communities are very silly indeed. Purimspiel at Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, Mass. Purim plays (also called purimspielen) were some of the first Jewish theater, and to this day there are opportunities for members of Jewish communities to mock each other and the current political situation as they retell the story of the Book of Esther. There are Purim carnivals for children in costume. There are special Purim foods, like hamantashen, the jam-filled pastries that we North American Jews of Eastern European extraction make for this holiday, and, well, alcoholic beverages. (No, alcohol is not mandatory. I’ve been to more than one Purim party where people claim to be drinking when they are really holding cups of alcohol while telling jokes. You should never feel pressure to drink. Or to laugh.)

It’s the perfect holiday for this blog, because:

1. It’s a holiday about a Jewish woman who entered an interfaith marriage, preserved her identity and saved the Jewish people. Enough said.

2. On the internet, no one knows whether you’re wearing a Purim costume. (No, I’m not. For one thing, it’s not Purim yet. Also, I’m at work. In addition, I don’t even wear a costume at the megillah reading. Those are my real nose and glasses.)

3. If you haven’t seen this funny video, you should. Continue reading

Ronna and Beverly

  

Have you read You’ll Do A Little Better Next Time: A Guide to Marriage and Remarriage for Jewish Singles? No? Never heard of it? It’s written by Beverly Ginsburg and Ronna Glickman, two Massachusetts-based Jewish mothers. Watch this video (courtesy of Jewcy) to see them harass an intermarried record store clerk. “We’ll talk you through the divorce,” they tell him.

Full disclosure: Ronna and Beverly are fictional. For more of their exploits, visit ronnaandbeverly.com.

Adam Sandler = Israeli Super Spy

  

I’m not much of an Adam Sandler fan, but for the first time in well over a decade, I saw a trailer for a Sandler movie that looks genuinely funny. Called You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, it stars Sandler as an Israeli Mossad agent who goes to New York to become a hair stylist–and Rob Schneider as a Hezbollah terrorist/cab driver.

How Jesus Made Jeremy a Better Jew

  

Jeremy Greenberg, a stand-up comic, has written an amusing, albeit perplexing, essay on “How Jesus Made Me a Better Jew” for American Jewish Life magazine. “Jesus first came to me in sixth grade through my friend’s older sister’s breasts,” he says.

Breasts aside, I was a prime candidate for receiving a Christendectomy. As a kid, being a Jew meant going to Sunday school instead of playing with my friends. It meant missing football practice and games during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Until I graduated high school, Judaism was a religion based on separating me from my friends — me from who I wanted to be.

Continue reading

The Perils of Intermarriage–’70s-Style

  
justmarried150.jpg

Let me paint a picture: It’s the age of lava lamps and rollerskates. Lynyrd Skynyrd rules the airwaves. America has yet to discover the gritty urban raps of the Sugarhill Gang. It’s an innocent time, the ’70s, a time before intermarriage was commonplace, a time when a Jewish man and a Catholic woman would have to be crazy to fall in love. Can their passion survive the anti-Semitic glares of their neighbors? The disapproving tweed jackets of their fathers? The confused sideburns of their friends?

Eli Valley, Jewcy.com’s talented humorist, has the answer.

In his recent post, “When Jewish David Met Irish Eileen,” Eli analyzes a 9-part series from the obscure ’70s comic book series “Just Married.” The storyline? An Orthodox Jew–who never wears a yarmulke but is partial to turtlenecks–falls in love with a devout Catholic woman. A typically hilarious passage from his analysis:

Although they have already eloped, David and Eileen get remarried, twice, to please their parents – first in a church, and then in a synagogue. In the storyline’s solitary visit to a Jewish house of worship, we glean fascinating insights into Orthodox Jewish customs – the burning incense, the rabbi wearing a circular necklace, the resemblance of the rabbi to Jesus, the prayer book inscribed with a Jewish Star drawn to resemble a Pentagram. It is as if the comic book is asking, are not all religions the same? Especially if they all look like Christianity? Finally, the comic book reveals that in Orthodox Jewish weddings, it is customary for the rabbi to make out with the bride, particularly if she is a Gentile.

Now, if in the wake of the Don Imus affair, you’re wondering what is acceptable to joke about and laugh at, and what is not, Peter Moore, a self-described “half-Jewish” (“I always tell people that I’m not really one of the Chosen People, but I am an Alternate.”) actor and director, created a list of guidelines for telling jokes in the PC age, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune.

Encouraging Jewel-ish Choices?

  

Purim, often called the “Jewish Halloween,” is on Sunday. But it’s more than that–it’s also the Jewish April Fools’ Day. It’s become a bit of a tradition for some papers to publish fake news for Purim.

The intermarriage debate comes in for some parody by our friend Julie Wiener at The (New York) Jewish Week, as excerpted on the Jewish Outreach Institute’s blog, in a post by Kerry Olitzky. For the 25 of us who know all the players parodied in the article, it’s pretty amusing.

What Do They Talk About At Those Conferences?

  

A friend of mine sent me a very funny piece from 2005 mocking the kinds of survivalist discussions that happen at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly, which is held every November. It’s a little out-of-date–even some conservatives have now deserted President Bush–but it does a nice job poking fun at how out-of-touch some community leaders are.

Talk Like a Jewish Pirate

  

As some of you may know, today is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day.” I thought this had nothing to do with interfaith families, until I saw this story from the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles on the history of Jewish pirates. Among the nuggets of gold from the article is the fact that a number of pirates were Conversos, Jews who practiced Christianity in public and Judaism in secret to evade the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. So in a way, every married Converso was intermarried. (It’s a stretch, admittedly, but so was basing a movie on a Disney ride, and look at how that turned out.)

Here are some Jewish pirate-related jokes I’ve heard today:

What do you call Jewish pirates?
    People of the Hook.

What does a Jewish pirate do on Yom Kippur?
    Blows the shof-aarrr.

What did the Jewish pirate say when he heard tekiah?
    “Thar she blows.”

What happens when a Jewish pirate turns 13?
    He has a barrrr mitzvah.

But what does he have to wait until 17 to do?
    See an aarrrr-rated movie.