April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Best of My Recollection

We are truly living in a golden age of curmudgeonry. This past year, I didn’t attend a single simcha, share a Shabbos meal, or dance on Simchas Torah. To be honest, I haven’t gotten leibedik on Simchas Torah since 1997, but this year I felt less bad about it. At this point, I don’t even know if I’m halachically allowed to dance. You see, I never said “bli neder.”

There are certain concessions that were made during the height of the pandemic that there is simply no turning back from, like not celebrating Purim. Last year, I actually did observe Purim. In fact, I spent most of the day engaged in what is arguably the quintessential, traditional Purim activity: driving my kids all around town to deliver shalach manos to their friends.

When I was younger, I didn’t fully appreciate the wise and compassionate reason that our sages made Purim in Shushan, and cities of similar ilk, on a different day, namely to spare parents from having to take their children to their friends and morahs who lived there.

A few Purims ago, I was in a neighboring town at an intersection with a four-way stop. Although mine was the first car at the intersection, I let the car to my left go through first. Partially because it seemed like a nice thing to do, and partially because I was dressed as Avraham Aveinu at the time, and so I felt a responsibility to act the part. Then, all of a sudden, cars from the three other directions entered the intersection at the same time. I got stuck in gridlock for 20 minutes, until some kid in a traffic cop costume got everyone moving again. It really bothers me when bad things happen to good drivers. I think that is subconsciously why I drive a Honda Theodyssey.

I firmly believe that the costume a person wears has a major impact on her behavior while driving. I once made a sharp turn to get away from a particular car on Purim. The driver wasn’t wearing a costume, but there was a youngster dressed as Haman sitting in the back, and I got the distinct feeling she was calling the shots.

Sometimes you just can’t tell, though. A couple of years ago, I thought for sure this guy dressed as a kohen gadol was going to let me merge into his lane, but he completely refused. I had assumed he was dressed as Aharon. As it turns out, he apparently was going as one of those Second Temple Era Sadducee kohen gadols.

When I get an aliyah on Purim, I like to stay in character. But it’s tough to decide which “Star Wars” characters would speak in ashkenazis and which in sefardit. Some people find it amusing, but staying in character is not without the potential for controversy. There are some folks who, back in the day, were behind in their movie viewing and still haven’t forgiven me for being called up as “Luke ben Darth Vader.”

If Mordechai were alive today, he might be distressed over the inaccuracies in how he is depicted in costumes, such as all the polyester involved. However, I can’t see how he could help but be impressed by all the flavors of humus we have.

Nothing says I-bought-this-stuff-because-it-was-on-sale more than including pumpkin spice hummus in your shaloch manos. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favor of overspending, quite the opposite. I think something has to be done as a society to curb our excessive shopping habits. I am not sure if being “koneh hakol” is one of God’s behaviors we are supposed to imitate. Nor am I impressed by those who get all frum about their purchases by saying Birkat A-mazon whenever they turn off the computer.

Next week, I have a big meeting with a venture capital firm to discuss my latest business idea—babaganoush-flavored hummus, for people with eggplant allergies, or poor spellers who have trouble ordering the real thing online. I’m calling the product: “No Gehnoush is Good Gehnoush.”

Speaking of double dipping, Judaism is all about second chances, the opportunity to revisit the missteps and missed opportunities of the past. I am of course referring to Adar Sheni. Adar Sheni makes Adar Rishon look like Marcheshvon. For example, I didn’t think The Link’s Purim katan edition was funny at all, well, at least, not intentionally so.

I think it would be a major improvement to the paper, if they didn’t keep rejecting all my proposed headlines. Being that the cancel culture that pervades the general society has made its way into the Jewish community, I thought I would make a journalistic name for myself and secure consistent work by covering the job-loss beat. Here is but a sampling of headlines I suggested that were rejected by the powers that be:

When the cantor lost his job—“Sha”tz Fired!”

When the Rabbi was let go—“Shalom Rav!”

When the ritual director’s services were terminated—“Kiss Your Job Gabbai!”

When the shul president was shown the door—“Na-see Ya!”

Always one to plan ahead, I’ve also prepared a headline for when the editors finally have enough of my shenanigans—“Beloved Columnist Makes the Difficult Decision to Step Down in Order to Spend More Time Driving With His Family.”

Happy Purim everyone, and safe travels.

By Neil Kinder-Lauer

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