Monday, January 17, 2011

770 We're Marching On....

Does Your Third Nipple Throw Off Your Center of Gravity?

The other night my really cool friend and I decided to walk to a Gehzee hotspot on Kingston avenue for some hot cocoa. Not to be critical or anything but eight dollars for hot cocoa...that is whack. Not to mention that it was basically instant hot cocoa and well was not really gourmet. But I am not one to complain, if your off balance how could you possibly make hot cocoa. so lets continue. 
We picked up our Gehzee hot cocoa and decided to keep walking. Now as many of you may know there is this whole thing called the Kingston Avenue shuffle. Basically you walk down Kingston Avenue looking at your feet and slamming into random people because you can’t see them. You see, apparently it is more tznius (modest) for a man to slam into a random woman while walking, than it is for him to look at her to avoid slamming into her. Then again this whole slamming into thing could be caused by lack of balance. In any case, this is  the Kingston Avenue shuffle.
So my friend and I were shuffling down the street trying to avoid being knocked over by the over zealous men trying to catch the last minyan at 770. When she spotted someone we just had to see. Now keep in mind we are both in our twenties and really don’t do that school girl giggle when we see a guy...but for some unknown reason tonight was the night to revert back to our teenage years. Let’s just say this guy is worth getting all hot and bothered over (insert sarcasm here). Now my friend was quite sure that it was him, the man of our dreams, the perfect male specimen. I had my doubts. 
We walked casually behind “him” and his posse continuing to shuffle. UHOH, he walked into a store. At this point I was very well convinced that it wasn’t him, but my cool friend was dead set that it was. Why would he be walking into Nosh World. No one and I mean no one goes into Nosh World unless they are little pishers going there to check out members of  the opposite sex who are also pishers. Keep in mind this means that they all sit at tables and pretend not to look at each other, and they God forbid would never actually talk to each other. In any case if Mr. Awesome was in there...we were going in and we were going to embrace our inner pisher!
We walked in and stood by the door to look and see if it was him. Guess what....IT WASN’T! We giggled and I announced “Oh dear lord, that’s not him.” The Mexican cleaning the windows was cracking up. We ran out of the store, thank God we were next to the door. We laughed and continued our balanced shuffle down Kingston Avenue. Sometimes, its nice to go back in it balanced or unbalanced. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery

Okay so here I am in California. Yep Im in Los Angeles, more specifically Pico Robertston. The Crown Heights of the West Coast, minus all the dirty looks and unfriendly nature of the the original. Guess what, there is a 770 here! Now for those of you who don’t know, 770 is the holy of holies in the Chabad world. The Rebbes shul and more importantly the headquarters for Chabad. Not only does it house the main Chabad shul, but also the Rebbe’s office, apartment, and a yeshiva. 
Now I always knew that many Chabad communities had replicated this building in their own cities, however I never knew there were so many. I have now learned that there are over a dozen “770’s” all over the world. That’s some kind of dedication and truly flattering. 
Erev Shabbos I was driving with my host, who happens to be one of my favorite people (no sarcasm). We were going to pick up her younger sisters from school. As we drove up the block I was checking out the scenery. All of a sudden I lifted my head and there it was. Just like home. Oh my God IT’S 770!!!! I was so excited I had to take a picture. My friend was amazed by my excitement. As you all know I am no longer religious so why would I care. But according to my friend I am still a very spiritual person so it makes sense that I would be excited. 
I took a picture and we kept driving. To my surprise we were driving behind 770, and then like driving into a holy portal we were driving into 770. Now if you were to do this in New York, at the original, you would find yourself driving into the mens section and would probably now be given such a warm welcome. Who the hell drives into a shul. However, in California it is welcome. Thats right, you can drive into 770 California version. Why you may ask, well because unlike the lower level of New York 770 which houses the mens section of the shul, the lower level of California 770 houses a parking garage and more importantly car pool for the girls school. I was amazed I finally know what’s in the basement of 770. 
As we drove in my friend was telling me how poorly designed the 770 parking garage is. Who cares how it’s designed, I was simply amazed that I felt like I was driving into a mall rather than the Holy of Holies. Do we have to take a ticket? How much does parking cost at the Holy of Holies? Well to my dismay there was no ticket and we didn’t have to pay. But that was kind of cool, we are Jews we love free things. Any way back to the design. Now Jews aren’t really known for making things easy. In fact we can complicate the most simple tasks. Putting on pants make sure you do right before left, going to sleep start on the left and make your way to the right, driving in carpool you must go down before you can go up. Yes that is right you have to drive to the lower level, go around and then go back to the upper level. There is something very Chassidish about this concept. This got me thinking. 
Everything we do has some sort of meaning. We can not just do things idly. Everything has meaning. We do things for a reason, to achieve some sort of spiritual satisfaction. Now, I am sure that when the parking garage was built brachas (prays) were made so that nothing bad would happen during the construction blah blah blah. But, the failure in design, the inconvenient “go down, to go back up” was probably not planned for any specific religious reason. However, it satisfies spirituality in some ways because I am sure somewhere in some Jewish body of knowledge there must be a reference to landing on your ass before you can reach a spiritual high. The point is I now know what the keep in the catacombs of 770, a parking garage.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm My Own Grandma

Last night my friends and I decided that in the middle of the snow storm we would trek up Kingston Avenue, for a truly delightful meal at a tres chic Gehzee hotspot. To any normal person this is a simple task. But for me and my friends it takes careful planning. You see one of us has to make sure we have enough tissues. Its cold outside and well we get runny noses. And of course we need aleve for our aches and pains. Oh and then there are the snacks, just in case the stick your finger up your nose diabetes test comes back positive and our blood sugar gets low. Needless to say the preparation for going out ages us greatly. We might as well just start using walkers and canes now. Anyway, we finally made it to the restaurant and sat down for our meal. Now I am not going to critique the service...but we were there for over two hours. None of us minded, but SERIOUSLY two hours all we ordered were salads. Anyway we sat, we shmoozed, and someone sneezed. Then they sneezed again and again and again. The typical reaction ignore it or acknowledge it with the normal dark age response to sneezing, "God Bless You." I say dark ages because the origin of "God Bless You," dates back to a time when the common cold would cause death. Therefore, when you sneeze God should bless you not to get sick, contract the black plague, yada yada yada, and die (poo, poo, poo).
As a child superstition was very common concept in my home. We are Jews, so everything is bad luck. My grandmother was extremely superstitious. You know throw salt over your shoulder, don't step on a crank, and something about seven mirrors or bad luck or something like that. Whatever it was, my grandmother was always trying to make sure that the ayin hara (evil eye) was far far away. Part of her precautionary measures against the evil spirits was to make sure the give us extra blessings every time we sneezed. Yes that is right Grammy was living in the dark ages where if you sneeze, that might mean you have acold, and a cold means the black plague and well the black plague means death (poo, poo, poo). Therefore whenever a sneeze was heard my Grandmother would start "tzugehzunt, tzib laben, tzib voxen, nachamol, nachamol, nachamol." Again this is one of those Yiddish phrases you might just happen to see at Gupta's. This phrase as I have now learned from one of my favorite Gehzee sources (no sarcasm here, this one is really a favorite) means "To heath, to life, and to growth (upward not outward, ie spiritual growth) again and again and again." This is a pretty hefty blessing to give just for a sneeze, but it always made us laugh and so far we are all healthy, living, and growing (mostly outward).
Ok back to dinner. So someone sneezed. And then they sneezed again and again and again. So without even thinking, out came my Grandmother's favorite Yiddish blessing, to your health, to your life, to your growth, again and again and again ( I said it in Yiddish). My friends started cracking up. What in the world did I just say. A simple dark ages "God Bless You," would have been fine. But no, my Grandmother's words flew out of my mouth as if she had it all planned. My friend passed a tissue to the sneezer, and my other friend asked if they had a cold and need some aleve. We finished our salads, bundled back up and made our way out into the frozen tundra. Each one of us like a little old Grandma.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Story From A Reader...Don't Assume

This story came to me from a friend/reader of the blog. Here it goes....
Just a few days ago a friend of mine was lucky enough to be the recipient of a few free lunches. Now I am not the type to say no to something free...its engrained in me I'm a Jew. This friend of mine is also a Jew...therefore it must be something in our blood. In any case free things are awesome and free food is even more awesome. Anyway back to the story. So, as this friend of mine was picking up her free lunch coupons, there happened to be two Chasidish women standing behind her in line. One woman looked at the other, and said (in Yiddish, which apparently in the real world is some kind of secret language of Jewish espionage)  "די גרויס פרוי אין די הויזן דאַזאַנט דאַרפֿן צו פרעסס." Basic translation, "The fat woman in the pants doesn't need to FRESS (eat like an animal as opposed to the yiddish word essen which refers to how humans eat). Now my friend speaks Yiddish, and these two holier than though women were in for a surprise. My friend heard and understood the statement. She turned around and look at them and said "איך פֿאַרשטיין אַ ביסל מאַמאַ לאָשען." Basic translation, "I can understand your bullshit." Then she called the two now shocked women "שמאַטע פּעדלאַר." Basic translation, "rag seller," which seems mild in context however, us Yiddish speakers know that its much worse. Because in Yiddish saying something like "I hope your hand gets stuck in a pickle jar," is as bad as putting a curse on someones home. Needless to say the women were embarrassed and my friend got the last laugh.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tardy For The Party

I was recently called a “tzugga kuminar.” Yet again another word you think you would find on an Indian take out menu. But, to my dismay when I tired to order it at Gupta’s all night masala bar, Gupta told I would be better off at Moishe’s Knish Kingdom. Apparently this title I was given is Yiddish, not Hindi. Now, although I have been exposed to the Yiddish language by my parents and grandparents, I never really learned Yiddish. I can understand for the most part and get the gist of a conversation, but I can’t reply. I never saw this as a problem. I mean Yiddish is sort like Latin...dead. However, after seven months in Crown Heights I have come to the conclusion that I should probably learn some Yiddish. So today I learned. 
What is a “tzugga kuminar?”
Well, how could I find this out. I could google, get a dead language dictionary, maybe ask my Rabbi. Nope, I asked one of my favorite Gehzees (no sarcasm here, this one is really a favorite). Dear Gehzee, what is a “tzugga kuminar?” Well, they didn’t really know. I was confused. I thought one of the rules of being Gehzee was to speak Yiddish. Apparently I was mistaken. So I moved onto a new source. I would like to welcome the addition of my Chasidish friend. You know white stocking wearing, knicker wearing, longa peyis having, Chasid. The answer...”somevone who came to der family.” Now I’m even more confused. I don’t remember coming to anyones family. In fact pretty sure I haven’t come into anyones family recently. So why the new title? Let me explain.
In the Gehzee world this wonderful Yiddish term, means a late bloomer. Someone who wasn’t originally a member of the club, that came later on. Basically someone with out a Gehzee connection...A BAAL TESHUVA. So why not just say that? Why make things confusing? I have no answer for this. Except that I feel that this new Yiddish term is a bit more derogatory than its Hebrew counter part. Yes that’s right derogatory, offensive, or in Yiddish...NISHT SHAIN. Now I’m really confused because I was always told that being a  Baal Teshuva was a good thing.I can rag on it from now until tomorrow but it’s still a good thing. Let me explain...
According to basic Chabad Chasidus there are three types of people in this world. The Tzadik, they Baal Teshuva, and the Rasha. Basically the good, the once bad and now good, and the bad. Easy enough. But the question is who is the best. I know, the good. Nothing trumps the good. Well, wrong. You  see, the good were always good never experiencing anything else but good. So therefore not the best. And well the bad don’t know or want to know anything better than bad so, not the best. Then there is the Baal Teshuva, the “tzugga kuminar.” These are the people who have been exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly and have chosen to change their lives for the good. Now I am not going to go on and argue whether or not religion is good or bad blah blah blah, I am just explain the rest of the Chasidus. Basically, it is said that no person including a Tzadik can ever walk in the same shoes as a Baal Teshuva. That they are the best because they have seen the other side and have seen all there is to see, all of the worldly pleasure and desire, and still they chose the limited lifestyle of being dedicated to the Jewish religion. Therefore they have made the most sacrifice. They are AWESOME! So, why do we get a bad rap? Answer, because we were late to the party. 
Here’s what I say...we are all give up the Yiddish slurs and be nice.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ill Tell Ya What I Want What I Really Really Want

A wise and beloved friend relayed the following story to me. I would like to share it with you and of course add some interesting ideas of my own.
A man and his son entered a shoe store. The boy quickly ran to the sneakers and announced that he NEEDED the $100 sneakers. His father looked them then looked at his son. "How much money is in your pocket," he asked his son. "I have forty bucks," said the son. The father thought and then replied "Well you see dear boy, you have a problem, those shoes you NEED are $100, what you have is $40, what you really NEED is $60, you aren't getting those sneakers."
We all have wants, needs and haves. I want a chocolate bar, I need a diet, I have a few extra pounds. I want to please my family, I need to respect their wishes, I have an awesome family. I want to tell you that although it seems as if our wants are all needs, they aren't. We can't always get what we want. We can try...but inevitably we get what we need. You see there is this Jewish thing I like to call divine providence, for Hashkacha Pratis. Now I know it sounds like something you order on a Indian take out menu, but its actually this pretty amazing thing. You see we can want something and we can try to get it. But in the end God, let's give him a capital "G" today, has the divine ability to give us what we need instead. I want to love, and I do, I need to focus more on loving the right people. God is giving me that ability. Now, when I find out that God takes away what I want...he doesn't exist. That's right I give him the one finger salute and go after what I want. Guess what he always wins. I guess what I am trying to say is that I wish that I was able to accept the things I need and to stop running after the things I want. Cause guess what I can want something from now until tomorrow, but like the boy in the story, I only have $40.

You're So Vain...I Bet You Think This Song Is About You...

It seems to be that now that the blog has traffic everyone wants to claim it's about them. Guess what it is not, it is about me. Now some of the stories may seem familiar to many of you and you may have been around when the ideas were discussed, but I never write about specific people. I write about my life. Situations I encounter, things I hear or see. But never about a specific person. In fact I tend to blog about groups of people. The Jews, the Gehzees, and my friends. Just because you fall into one of these categories, doesn't mean the post is about you. However, if any of my lovely readers would like me to post about them, write to me. Tell me your story. I would be happy to write about you. Otherwise give it up I don't write about you I write about my life and if you are so lucky to be apart of my life you may find yourself relating to my blog posts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Do Your Boobs Hang Low?

Just the other I was on the train with a group of friends ranting and raving about life. We were on way to go shopping, when the subject of my not so productive dating came up. I say not so productive because I have a history of serial dating. While I have had many relationships...none of them have ever led to the "M" word. I can't say that I am terribly shocked or dissappionted by this. I find it crazy that at the young age of 23, when I should be partying it up and getting drunk...I am worried about getting married. Now in normal society I don't have to worry about this until my 30's. That's right burn your bra, move over June Clever...I am woman hear me roar and I don't need a man to support me so therefore I can marry out of want and not necessity. WRONG. In Bizzaro world I am over the hill. While the majority of my friends were off getting married and having babies...I was not. This led to a series of unhealthy and unproductive relationships. Some lasted longer than others, some were more entertaining than others. The one thing the all had in common...boobs. Yes that's right boobs. Not my boobs, not some other chicks whose boobs are we talking about.
We are talking about my significant others mothers boobs. Yes thats right Mom Boobs. I have recently come to the conclusion that  many of the men I have dated and continue to date are still quite literally on the boob. Yes thats right they still breast feed be it figurative or literal...they are still on the saggy, I had ten kids, I nursed ten kids, do your boobs hang low can you tie them in a bow boobs. They are mommas boys through and through. They would rather give up their own happiness than get off the boob. They would rather give up young firm boobs, for saggy droopy boobs. Why, I am not completely sure, but from and innocent on looker who over heard the conversation on the train in between switching songs in shuffle...maybe Jewish boys just like saggy boobs.

A Litvoch Stole My Breaded Stick Shaped Chicken Patties...Have you seen them?

It has recently come to my attention that sometime in the wee hours of the night a Litvoch (whatever the hell that is sounds like something stuck to the bottom of my shoe example "damn I just stepped in some Litvoch.") Stole my bag of Of Tov Breaded Stick Shaped Chicken Patties. This bag of pre fab Israeli chicken was bought with good intention. Okay let's be honest I was $11 short of the delivery minimum and picked these up cause they are $12. I was planning to use them for a night when I am too tired to cook...many of those have passed and I have found that take out is the answer. Their fate you may ask, well they were to be served instead of chulent at my next Shabbos day chulent meals. Yes that is right I was going to LIE!!! See heres how I Crown Heights as long as there is booze on the table...preferably Benedictine and doesn't matter what you serve, drunk men will eat anything. Therefore come over for "chulent" get wasted, eat some Breaded Stick Shaped Chicken Patties and I will be rid of the nuggets. Instead they were stolen by a Litvoch. If you see the Litvoch or the Chicken nuggets please contact the authorities so that he can be condemned to a life of learning gemara in kollel.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Oh Grocery Shopping We Will Go

So I was lucky enough to have a day off. What should I do. I know go Grocery shopping. I mean how hard could it be. Go, put stuff in a cart, pay, and have my groceries delivered. Simple. Well not so simple in Crown Heights. Some would say...why the hell go grocery shopping erev shabbos. And I reply because its my only fucking day off all year...who cares that its erev shabbos!!! So I did it, I braved the crowds and went grocery shopping.
Now on any normal day one can buy their groceries and get them delivered. It's New York no one has cars and there is no way I am shlepping bags down the Boulevard. So I planned...go shopping...get groceries delivered. Simple.
As I arrived at the largest kosher supermarket in Crown Heights, I was greeted by throngs of people getting their last minute shopping in before shabbos. I did not let this stop me. I walked the crowded aisles and took what I needed and placed it in my cart. After about an hour I had everything I needed. Keep in mind this was my shopping trip for the week so I grabbed everything from soda to tampons. Nothing was left behind.
Now that I was finished It was time to check out. I walked to the front of the crowded store and waited in line. I stood their listening to a tween girl begging her mother to buy her the newest Shweky compact disc as if Shweky was the new Britney Spears. The girl was going on and on about how bored she was of her Avraham Fried compact disc. I was kvelling...get her some Backstreet Boys and let her live a little. I continued to amuse myself by reading some Chabad magazines until it was my turn in line.
Ahhh finally time to unload the groceries onto the conveyer belt. Beep beep beep...$130 later everything was bagged and I was ready to go. Oh wait request delivery and pay...ya that's important. I swiped my debit card and then said delivery please. The answer was no sorry, no delivery after 1 on fridays and now its 1:45. Umm what the hell I have two not one but two boxes worth of groceries how the hell am I supposed to carry them. Well apparently this was not the cashiers problem. I called some friends and unfortunately no one was around. So what do you do. I called a car service. I waited and waited. As I waited an old bubby approached me.
"Are you waiting for a car?" "Ya I am." she then explained that she was also waiting. Not for a car and well not for moshiach, but to see if one of the passersby or other customers who had come with cars would give her a ride as she could not afford a car service. NO ONE AND I MEAN NO ONE WOULD HELP HER!!!! My car service arrived the manager of the store scoffed at me "you called a car service?" "Ya I did (asshole), cause you wont deliver my groceries." "Listen," he said "I have all of these other deliveries to make." "Listen," I said, "if your making those deliveries anyway why not take my stuff Crown Heights is a six block radius." For whatever reason the answer was still "NO." I picked up a box to put it in the car service. The manager picked up the second box and mumbled under his breathe how the least he could do was help me. I told him to put the box down that I in no way would enable him to do a mitzvah and that I don't live on chesed alone. I then walked over to the old bubby and her boxes and told her to get in the car.
She wasn't sure what to do, how would she pay. No problem, Ill pay. Pay it a a good person. Who cares about the score card...I'm doing a good thing that's all that matters. I'm not doing it to bring moshiach...I'm doing it because I'm a good person.
She got in the car. She quickly asked in a hushed whisper so the black driver wouldn't hear (this a topic for another blog) what my name was. I told and she whispered me hers. I can't remember it but if I ever do see this woman again I will hug her and thank her for the following conversation. She asked about my words with the store manager. I told her the story and then said "I thought I moved to a community based on chesed...I was wrong." She then asked my age...I told her 23...she said I should move not because I don't belong here but because I am one of the lucky ones. I realized the faults of this community at a young age...young enough to walk away and chart my own course. Will I leave, the answer is no. What will I write about if I leave. As I was dropped off she embraced me. Kissed both cheeks, wished a good shabbos and left me with the following words..."This community is like community of lepers." I am completely sure what she meant. But I do know if she were 23 she would leave.

So My Grandfather Didn't Go to Tomchei Tmimin...

It is no secret that I am not Gehzee. Recently I have come under fire from many of my friends saying that I am stupid to criticize the Gehzee. To criticize the need for inbreeding and complete ignorance toward other Jews. Here is what I say...
A Jew is a Jew. In my mothers words...other than an education, being a Jew is the only thing that no one can take away from me. However, it seems to me that the Gehzee have this undeniable power to take away a persons Judaism by discrediting their lineage. Explained better, I am not a Jew because my grandfather didn't go to Tomchei Tmimin or die in Siberia. This is complete Bullocks. Last time I checked I am a Jew because my mother is a Jew and her mother was Jew and her mother was a Jew. Who freaking cares who died where or when, I am still a Jew. But, in the big scheme of things and according to the Gehzee I am not a Jew. So now its time to vent further.
As I see it. If the Gehzee have their way and deny every other Jew be it a Jew for Jesus or Baal Teshuva. The future of the Jewish world will become bleak. Let's get real, Chabad would not and will not continue to survive with out Baal Teshuvas. It is utterly impossible for the entire Chabad world to survive and only be Gehzee. In fact without new blood this community would not have anything except for a group of drooling inbred fools. Think about it, The Rebbe sent shluchim out to help other Jews, to accept other Jews, last time I checked denying them is a big sin. But I am not Gehzee and therefore cannot really know what the rules are. However, I am pretty sure the Baal Teshuvas are a huge part of the Chabad world and denying them would send this "society" into a tailspin.
No my Great grandfather didn't go to Tomchei Tmimin. An neither did my great great grandfather. But they fought for their Judaism. They did not sit by in a yeshiva praying to God when our people were being killed. And they did not sit by in Siberia pretending to be martyrs. They fought. My Great Great Grandfather was killed in Russia by the Kosocks. He was shot dead while running after them, his only defense was his families last potato. He fought for his family and his religion. And I would rather fight then sit by and depend on a name to show that I am a Jew.