Sunday, February 28, 2010

I've Hit the Big Time!

I've made it to the Wall Street Journal of Jewish journalism! That's right, Hamodia! Enjoy!:

Excerpts from the Abridged Prepared Table, A.K.A. The Gentile Kitzur

Redacted by

Mordechi Bodek

The Dead Seagate scrolls consist of about three documents, including texts from the Abridged Prepared Table, discovered between 5769 and 5770 in eleven restaurants in and around Little Odessa near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Coney Island, on the southwest shore of the Dead Seagate.

The texts are of great religious and historical significance, as they include some of the only known surviving copies of Jewish Gentile law made before 2010 C.E. and preserve evidence of early third temple Gentilism.

In this publication, we are proud to display excerpts of this marvelous find, the full version of which will be published soon, just in time for Eliyahu to answer all Taikus on the matter just before Moshiach arrives.

Chapter 3: Hilchos Shabbos Goy

1) When you are confronted by your Jewish neighbor on Shabbos (“the Sabbath”), do not be so intimidated by his panicked facial expression as to hasten across the street. Rather, hear out what he has to say.

2) The secret to deciphering your Jewish neighbor’s anguished pleas is antonyms. He wants exactly the opposite of what he’s saying. For example, if he says “It’s cold in my house,” this means he wants the heat on. If he says, “I left my keys in the car,” he wants you to get them out. If he says, “I have my in-laws over,” it means you go back to your glory days as a Rebbeh’s gabbai (“bouncer”).

3) If you’re brought into a shul (“synagogue”) to perform an antonym, you don’t have to put on a yarmulka (“skullcap”). This would be ma’ares ayin (“Hold up, that Jew is doing what on Shabbos?”) anyway.

4) Your tip is schnapps (“liquor”) and sponge cake. Sorry, that’s all we have as currency on Shabbos. You wouldn’t eat wiggly cubes of chicken fat, would you?

Chapter 16: Hilchos Shabbos Car Service

1) If you get a call from a Jew on Shabbos, the missus is about to deliver a baby. Let’s roll.

2) When you arrive, note that your payment is right in the doorway, on the radiator cover or mirror shelf. The husband has researched your fees and added the standard 3% tip. Enjoy.

Chapter 23: Hilchos Mechiras Chometz

1) Congratulations, you now own a multi-billion dollar corporation! And you barely paid anything for it! Who said these Jews have good business sense?

2) In return, though, we may ask you to sell it back to us for a similar price in the near future. It’s only fair.

3) Sale or no sale, if you come into our house and start making yourself a sandwich, we will probably panic and call the cops. No hard feelings, though.

Chapter 57: Hilchos Jewish Co-worker

1) If for some reason you have a Jewish co-worker, ask him annoying questions. He’ll love it.

2) Our favorite questions are: “You’ve never had lobster? Never? No really, never? Never ever? Aw c’mon, never? Don’t you wanna try?” and: “Really? You can have any beer you want? Any one? Really? How about Heineken? Can you have that one? Really? Also Coors? Really? Coors?” and finally: “But why won’t you accept this bottle of wine from me as a gift?”

3) That time we disappear for two days, but no news outlet has announced what Jewish holiday it is? That’s something called Shavuous. (“Pentecost.”) (Okay, that’s not really better. How about “Festival of Weeks”?) Now that the cat’s out of the bag, we might as well tell you what it’s about: We stay up all night learning and then fall asleep while the Torah is being read to make up for oversleeping when the Torah was being given.

4) Don’t concern yourselves with our Hebrew names. You couldn’t pronounce them anyway. Instead, we’ll make a real effort to at least respond to the name we’ve given you.

5) You work on our holidays and we work on yours. Even though we have 19 more holidays than you do, we think it’s a fair compromise. This is because we use up all our vacation days without actually ever taking a vacation.

6) No, that’s not kosher. That’s just the symbol for a registered product.

6b) No, it’s still not kosher. That’s just the copyright symbol.

Chapter 68: Hilchos Alternate Side Days

1) You’re welcome.

Chapter 78: Hilchos Attending a Jewish Friend’s Wedding.

1) Men on one side, women on the other. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

2) The evening usually begins with a smorgasbord, which means, “Ahhhhh numnumnumnumnum.” Or at least on the women’s side. The men have a “Chosson’s Tisch” which means “Slim pickins.”

3) Wait, the ceremony’s not over yet. That hushed silence you hear is everyone waiting for the groom to make several abortive attempts to break a glass with his foot.

4) Beer? What beer? Jews don’t drink; they eat! Beer is for Shalom Zachors, not weddings.

5) Dancing is done in a circle, counterclockwise and smooshed for the people with the felt hats and the sidelocks behind the ears, clockwise and orderly for the people with the fur and the sidelocks in front of their ears. We don’t know line dancing from break dancing, and will sue you for the injuries if you try to teach us.

6) Despite the specter of swine flu, you are required to hold the hand of the person in front of you and the person behind you. The only way halfway out of this is if you become the first or last in a circle that can’t quite reach around to the other side to make it complete.

7) The people asking for money are called “schnorrers.” No mocking. You do it with a plate, we do it by shoving a wad of $500 bills in your face. You can determine honesty by lamination. Laminated forgeries are too expensive for dishonest people to buy.

Chapter 99: Hilchos Understanding What Jews are Talking About

1) “What means this?” means “What does this mean?” It’s a linguistic tic we just can’t shake.

2) “By” is not the English word meaning “near” or “next to”. It is the Yiddish word meaning “at”. Thus, if we ask someone to stay by our house, we are not asking him to sleep on the lawn.

3) “Shidduch crisis” means there are way more unmarried girls than boys in some sects, and way more unmarried boys than girls in others, and intermarriage is strictly forbidden. Where would they eat on Passover? .

4) “Oy” means “Uch”. “Uch” means “Yoy”. “Yoy” means “Uch in vey”. “Uch in vey” means “A bruch”. “A bruch” means “Oy”.

5) “Machatonim” are… um, they’re uh… um… Wow! There’s no English word for it! Moving right along…

6) “Naches” cannot be defined. It is a scientific formula that needs to be pie-charted to be understood. It is 41% pride, 31% joy, 16% pleasure, 11% satisfaction and 1% horrible grammar. (EXAMPLE: “My son oy such a doctor he is you should only know!”)

Chapter 100: Hilchos Black Boxes with Wires

1) They’re called tefillin. Jews wear them every day. Biblical texts are inside. Yes, we mumble when we wear them, and sometimes we won’t respond to people who are speaking to us, but we mean you no harm. Please do not divert the plane.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finished Another Book!

How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer - 50 pages into this book and I suddenly realized why I liked it so much - his style is almost exactly that of my favorite non-fiction writer: Malcolm Gladwell. The book covers a lot of Gladwell's "Blink" territory, but - as you can surmise from the title - it totally focuses on the decision-making process. Conclusion: think about how you think. It's more complicated than it sounds.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Finished Another Book!

The Way Toys Work, by Ed Sobey and Woody Sobey - My wife got this for me as a gift - and she knows me well. The title and subtitle explain exactly what the book is. It satisfied huge curiosities of mine. Buy it for your kids, then read it yourself.

Another Teaneck Run

Ran all the way to Teaneck - through various snowdrifts and ice formations - and allllll the way to the bagel shop, where I met up with my wife for breakfast. While there, I met the gadol hador, Rav Pinky Schmeckelstein. Such an honor.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hadran Aluch Maseches Bava Basra...

...v'hadrach alun.
Boruch Hashem, this past Shabbos I completed maseches Bava Basra in honor of Rochel Urit bas Rivka Eidel. May she have a refuas hanefesh and a refuas haguf.
I have begun learning Sanhedrin in honor of the third birthday of our son, Yonah Avraham ben Moshe Mordechi Ichel. May he and I be zoche to the words in the hadran: Shelo tamush hatorah mipi imipi zari v'zera zari ad olam!
Zoogt der heiligeh gemooreh...

Monday, February 08, 2010

Finished Another Book!

Why Do Buses Come in Threes, by Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham - Crazily fun and exhilarating, solves a whole bunch of every day problems and clarifies matters that have bugged me my whole life. I now understand traffic, why two people in a room of 30 will share a birthday, why the London Underground design is ingenious, how pi and e and phi can be applied constantly, and of course, why it's efficient to start the shower before disrobing instead of vice-versa. Life-changing eye-opener to say the least.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

1 Race Down, 9 to Go

I braved the elements this morning for a run in Central Park ( By "elements" I mean weather so cold, my thoughts were frozen inside my brain. 'Twas six degrees with the wind chill. Emperor penguins would have suffered.

I wore six layers on my torso, one for each degree, and shorts beneath my sweatpants. It was so unbearable that I didn't remove any layer for the entire run.

My sister joined me for the race, though I didn't meet up with her until afterwards. She ran an impressive 9:17 Per mile, I did 9:05, taking it easy because my joints were frostbitten.

Good run, hope the rest this year are slightly warmer.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Finished Another Book!

The Extra Mile, by Pam Reed - Not expertly written - she's a runner, not a writer - but nevertheless still quite fascinating to read about her experience at the top of her field. I've now read all two female-written ultrarunning books, and the perspective is fascinating. No more exist though, which is kinda sad. Back to the men...

Monday, February 01, 2010

Started Writing a New Book

I Started writing "Bush II, Book II" and set a deadline for 12/31/10. While I'm writing it, I'll continue to brainstorm for what I can do for a calendar year and write about, ala "The Year of Living Biblically," "Reading the OED, "Living Oprah," etc.

Finished Another Book!

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish - Non-stop repetitive easier-said-than-done wishful-thinking nonsense, and brags about it. It doesn't address, for example, things that happen that they don't have advice for. This book is a con. If this is the parenting "bible" then I'm scared about what the rest of scripture looks like. I completed the book because I thought it could help, but it was a waste of my time. The bottom line seems be: be cool, manipulate your children, be creative. It could have said all that in 20 pages.