Is there anything particularly Jewish about ebay? Well, the ebay bidding platform arguably is a virtual shuk. In other words, ebay is like an on-line Machane Yehuda.
Ebay happens to be a wonderful on-line avenue that offers many Jewish products, some of which are essential. If you do the search, you will find many everyday items such as sefarim, mezuzot, tefillin and kippot along with holiday-related items like sukkahs, Seder plates and shofars. In fact, for $19.00 you can purchase a leather shofar strap, the type of strap sold with many other wind instruments. Most marching bands, however, do not feature the shofar so the need for such a strap is unclear. Anyway, ebay warns that the $19.00 price is for the strap only, “Shofar Not Included.” This begs the question, who buys a shofar strap with the expectation that the shofar is included? That would be like buying windshield wiper blades ($12.99 on ebay) with the expectation that the car is included.
Are some Jewish items on ebay more popular than others? Yes. There are a disproportionate number of dreidels available on ebay, including those on the fancier end—gold and silver—the type that parents display in their living rooms (often in a protective case) and then forbid their children from touching. This is cruel because dangling a dreidel in front of a child is like dangling herring in front of an elderly Jew. Trauma experts should study the untold psychological damage suffered by the young who must overcome years of “look but don’t touch” rules. This includes the generations of those who were forced to sit on sofas covered in clear plastic. When did Jews become allergic to “wear & tear”? It’s unclear but ebay actually provides the perfect excuse because mint condition items tend to fetch far higher bids. So, maybe our sofa-covering grandparents were not completely out of their minds. They were just way ahead of their time.
On ebay you also will find some relatively strange Jewish items. For example, for $22.49 you can be the proud owner of a “Chanukah Robot” (a/k/a “Judah Maccabot”) that lights up, dances and sings. If the robot also could make latkes and sufganiyot (and clean up after a Chanukah party), then the sellers easily would have a bidding war on their hands.
For $22.00, you can be the proud owner of a “Jewbacca” t-shirt, featuring the image of a heimish Chewbacca with a black hat and payos. That might be the best $22.00 you will ever spend. One also could imagine a t-shirt featuring the Jewish version of R2-D2, i.e., “R2-DJew,” especially since his dome top is ideally shaped for kippah wearing.
If you are craving Jewish cuisine, ebay can help. Believe it or not, you can bid on gefilte fish, chopped liver and babka. Sadly, you will not find cholent, the finished product, but you will find a book titled “The Rabbi’s Cholent,” loaded with essays, anecdotes and proverbs all about cholent. What is a cholent proverb? It will cost you $20.75 on ebay to find out but, if you just want a taste, here are some possible examples:
1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and cholent makes the belly grow larger.
2. Like magicians, cholent makers should never reveal their secrets.
3. A watched crock-pot never cooks.
For $48.00, you can purchase eight packages of Stella D’Oro Swiss Fudge cookies. That is $6.00 per package, which is not patently crazy. Go ahead and try to find a better chocolate-y dessert that is pareve and lasts for weeks while retaining its full texture and flavor. Stella D’Oro cookies might even be suitable for space travel.
Be careful on ebay because, at first blush, some postings might be misleading. For example, for $1,249 you can purchase a “BRIS” but understand that it is not a catered event for a circumcision. A “BRIS” is a 13-foot inflatable raft used for white water rafting. Obviously, one should never perform a bris on a BRIS because white water rafting is not a safe and reliable setting for such a procedure. Similarly, never perform open-heart surgery while riding a mechanical bull.
For $20.00, you can purchase “Tzuris” but it’s not what you think. “Tzuris” is a fun card game wherein the cards you play in your hand are actually for your opponent. So, if you purchase “Tzuris,” you are not necessarily buying distress or heartache, unless it creates tension and infighting among your family members. In that case, “Tzuris” will lead to tzuris.
Final thought: Never ebay your spouse, even if your Ketubah has an ebay clause.
By Jon Kranz