In addition to many other happenings in our world this week, we would like to pause, call attention and give our deepest thanks to Englewood’s own Jonathan Kranz, who filed his final “Oy Vey!” column with us this week. Please enjoy his unexpectedly academic treatise on Talmudic sources as they pertain to the topic of humor, on page 145.
While we would like to be on record as having protested Jon’s departure, we understand that he would like to move on to new frontiers away from the weekly newspapering genre, and are, frankly, amazed by his professionalism and skill in the side gig as a weekly humorist that he developed with seemingly great ease, outside his day job of law firm practice. (While we editors and publishers spend all our work time creating The Jewish Link each week, many of our columnists and freelancers juggle their deadline duties with demanding day jobs, and for the time they give to us, we are truly grateful.)
Jon appeared to us as a humor writer through a shockingly hilarious letter to the editor in September of 2016. We remember it like it was yesterday; he was protesting a real email from his child’s school, which announced that there had been a delivery delay for that day’s lunch offerings; the previously announced ravioli would unfortunately need to be replaced by an apparently substandard penne in marinara sauce. He had a lot of fun with it, as did we.
To this day, Jon’s “Penne for Your Thoughts” (https://jewishlink.news/letters/14924-penne-for-your-thoughts) continues to be one of our funniest and most favorite letters to the editor, especially as he mused about the frightening “pastabilities” of such an incident happening again, came out strongly against penne—“Penne are boring, hollow and soulless tubes of tohu-vavohu (nothingness)”—and mused about what other callous replacements might be happening in yeshiva day schools that he did not know about. (“It’s a slippery slope. Slippery like wet spaghetti.”)
Jon subsequently wrote weekly for us since October of 2016. He always had a clear vision and distinct ideas about what would work, or what would not work, for his column. Instead of a headshot, he insisted on using a picture of a toothless woman with a thought bubble saying, “Oy Vey!” This was his biggest victory over his editors, who generally like to see the faces of those writing for us, while Jon preferred a modicum of anonymity in this very public sphere.
His columns encompassed everything and anything in Jewish life: pun-heavy surveys of Jewish foods, his great enjoyment of Yiddish-isms (with a particular focus on the amusing Yiddish names for foods), why most Orthodox Jewish camps seem to start with the letter “M,” the mysterious beginnings of “challah toppings” that turned bread into dessert, why pizza stores also serve sushi, and funny things that only seem to happen during tachanun or in hashkama minyanim. He also honored us with an occasional serious article about an important topic; one in particular comes to mind when he wrote with searing shock and pain about the Mount Meron tragedy.
What our readers may not know is that it is quite difficult to write and submit a weekly column on time, week in and week out, much less with jokes. But Jon just took this on and hit one column after another out of the ballpark. Not only did he write his column for us, but he also syndicated it to other Jewish newspapers nationwide, and was paid for it. He was an unqualified success at the very difficult twins tasks of 1) coming up with a weekly humor column on a unique, fresh topic every week for over five years, and 2) turning it in on time.
We wish Jon the best in his next chapter, and we hope if the occasion merits it, he will honor us with a column, or perchance even a letter to the editor. Jon—The Jewish Link has been better with your columns, and we thank you for the time you spent helping us all look at the lighter side of life. You will be missed!